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Big Birthday

October 6

Written November 26



Dear Friends and Families,


Birthday celebrations in Germany are different from in America, especially the "tens": 30, 40, 50, etc. First, Germans DO celebrate such birthdays whereas Americans may just want them to pass without notice (I did recently anyway). Second, the celebration is organized and sponsored by the person having the birthday. At work, for example, the birthday celebrant is expected to bring in food and drink for at least his or her whole work group, often being generous enough that no one needs to go to lunch at all.

On Friday, October 6, we were invited to our first "tens" birthday outside of work and it was a remarkable celebration. Rosemarie Hofmann, our friend from the local Gasthaus where I stayed for almost a year, was celebrating. (I won't say which "ten"!) We were quite flattered to be among the folks Rosie and Friedrich invited.


The birthday started with coffee and cake at the Kellerhaus Cafe, the newest addition to Pommersfelden. In addition to great birthday cakes, the guests were treated to a show by Franconian folk dancers. This part alone would have been a nice birthday celebration, but it was just the beginning.


At about 5:30, the entire entourage filled up three or four dozen cars and drove back to the Lutheran ("Evangelisch") church in "downtown" Pommersfelden. We had not seen the inside of the church before and found it to be a real gem, small and intimate but with a sense of centuries of celebratory use. The service was cheerful, musical, and a wonderful addition to a special birthday party.


Coming out into the clear and dark evening, the guest of honor was serenaded by smartly dressed "Jaghorn" players, who created a wonderful sound, worthy of a movie setting.



The car caravan returned back up to the Kellerhaus, where the horn players continued their music. I wish I could have captured the scene of the glowing new Cafe, with Schloss Weisenstein in the background, and the clarion call of beautiful horns.


Inside the cafe, the 80 or so guests were treated to a full five course meal, from two of the best kitchens in town: Friedrich and Rosie's Greuner Baum Hotel-Restaurant and his brother and sister-in-law's Kellerhaus Cafe. The family is professionally and genuinely hospitable and generous.

  Frank Sinatra sang quietly throughout the dinner. Well, maybe not Frank himself, but a charming German singer who sang primarily old American crooner classics. Both Marianne and I were convinced he was from New Jersey or California because his singing was completely accent free but, no, he was as Franconian as the rest of the room.  

So, now you see what party standard you have to meet when you or your wife reaches 40, 50, 60, etc. Invite several dozen people, treat them for hours to music, food, and a bit of prayer. Above all, make it memorable, like Rosemarie's was for us.


John and Marianne.


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