Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Festivals

FALL FESTIVALS--by Sophia Sasson

I love Fall for all the wonderful festivals that start. Last year, I was in Munich, Germany; where Oktoberfest is serious business. The entire town was dressed in lederhosen and dirndls; the air smelled of beer and Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies); and maddening crowds from all over the world filled the streets. It was quite an experience.


Most people know about the beer tents at Oktoberfest. What you might not appreciate is they are enormous buildings. Thousands of people crowd into tables and chairs or benches in one of these “tents”. These structures made of wood beams and fancy decorations are actually temporary, made just for Oktoberfest each year. The crowd is often singing songs, dancing to music (on their tabletop or bench), and of course drinking lots of beer. 

What do the beer mugs look like? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Note: It’s considered a crime to steal of one of these krugs from a beer hall, and since the burly security guards are a scary deterrent, a successful heist is celebrated in the streets.

While riding on the subway or walking about town, you’ll see people dressed in traditional lederhosen, short or knee length leather breeches worn with a shirt or jacket. The longer versions are actually called Bundhosen. Women wear a dirndl, an aproned dress over a blouse. You can make out the tourists from the Germans by looking at the quality of their traditional clothes. Lederhosen and drindl’s cost anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars and you can see the difference in the quality of material, and detailing in the embroidery, buttons or other accents. I heard that such traditional clothing is often passed down generations, particularly children’s clothes.

 One item I’ve never seen at my local Oktoberfest, is a Lebkuchen which are seen all over the city. These are gingerbread hearts spiced with cinnamon and anise and all kinds of spices with messages like Ich Liebe Dich (I love you).  They come with a string attached to wear. You’re supposed to buy one for your sweetheart. Mine didn’t last long enough to wear, who wants to smell a ginger cookie and not eat it?

My favorite memory at Oktoberfest is walking into a tent full of highly inebriated Germans singing “country road.” I’ve never heard it sung with a German accent before.  I asked one singer’s why he liked the song but he didn’t speak English.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, when I began writing my heartwarming short story for Harlequin’s thanksgiving promotion, I really wanted it to be about small town traditions. My own little community has a wonderful Fall festival every year where there’s hay rides, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting. So I researched other Fall traditions and of course everyone knows about Oktoberfest but did you know about turkey hunting?  It used to be quite a sport in the Spring and Fall, and is still somewhat popular.  While we think of turkey’s in the Fall, the Spring hunting season brings out quite the strut in tom’s (male turkey’s) who gobble loudly looking for their love mate. While some hunters work on perfecting their hunting call to attract the birds, others count on their aim to snag a bird.


So I thought, what if a city girl goes to meet her boyfriend’s family expecting a marriage proposal, and instead gets roped into a turkey hunt. To find out what happens, read the short story (Falling for the Cowboy) that’ll be a free online read on November 11th as part of the Heartwarming thanksgiving promotion (more coming on that).

The short story and my first heartwarming book, First Comes Marriage is set in the town of Bellhaven, which the town’s people call Hell’s Bells (to know why, you’ll have to read my First Comes Marriage, now available for preorder on Amazon) is a quirky, quaint small town with traditions like turkey hunts and Bull Blazin festivals. To find out more about the short story or book, visit my website or sign up for my newsletter.


So tell me, what are some of your favorite Fall festivals?

18 comments:

  1. The pictures and description of Octoberfest in Munich are terrific! Thanks for sharing, Sophia. Best wishes with your upcoming release!

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  2. I loved reading about Octoberfest. I was trying to think of fall festivals around here, but I don't think we go to them. We do, however, spend a lot of time at orchards, all of which seem to have their own celebrations. You make me wish I'd paid more attention! :-) Good luck with your book and your story!

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  3. I would have loved to hear the Germans sing Country Road!

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  4. Great photos, Sophia! Those Germans sure know how to have fun. Congratulations on your upcoming release. I love the premise of Falling for the Cowboy...I'll be sure and look for it on the 11th. Cheers!

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  5. Now I want to go to Germany and celebrate such a day! It sounds like such fun. I look forward to your book :)

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  6. I want a heart-shaped ginger cookie! We went to an Oktoberfest at Mt. Angel, a small town a couple of hours away and it was fun. I love the music. Our area doesn't do a lot for fall, except that everyone gets into Halloween, The city puts up witches who look as though they've crashed into the street light poles. They're hilarious. They're all wearing gaudy-colored high heels and clutching their brooms. Congratulations on your first Heartwarming, and am waiting to read what happens on the turkey hunt! Nice to have you with us, Sophia.

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  7. Sophia, what a fun post. I've never been to an Oktoberfest anywhere. You've made me want to! Halloween is pretty much the only fall celebration we have around here (if that counts?) Congratulations on your upcoming Heartwarming book.

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  8. I love festivals, and like Muriel when I grew up in Oregon we often went to the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. No comparison to the real ones in Germany I can tell. I love Harvest Festivals done at the end of harvest time, and once went to one at the end of Sugar Cane Harvest. I love the Scottish festivals, too. One time I thought how great it would be to travel around and just visit festivals.

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    1. I forgot about the Scottish festivals. I've only been to one but I love it.

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  9. Great photos and I can't wait to read the stories.

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  10. I wasn’t in Germany for the Oktoberfest, but I did go to one of the beer halls in Munich. The mugs our waitress carried were heavy ceramic, and she carried three in each hand filled with beer. I could barely lift one! I have a beautiful purple dirndl that I bought there which my daughter and granddaughters now use. You brought back some lovely memories. Looking forward to reading your stories.

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    1. Marion, I bought one of those fancy heavy beer steins. I love looking at it on my display shelf.

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  11. I want to go to Germany during October! Or anytime, actually. Congrats on your first Heartwarming book!! It sounds wonderful.

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  12. Cool post, Sophia! Can't wait to read your online short and February HW debut!

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  13. Love the post. I spent time in Germany too. We went to one of the bars/pubs regularly. After a while, we were invited to sit at a special table that was only for regulars. We'd been there several nights in a row and gotten to know all the locals, so we qualified.

    My college roommate kept a journal of that trip. It's fun to go back and read it.

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  14. I've been to a Polish festival and there was lots of good food and of course beer. I don't care for the beer but the food is awesome!

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  15. My husband went to Octoberfest a few years ago and had the very best time. He loved every minute of it - the beer, the pretzels, the sausage, the people. Your book sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it :)

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