Friday, November 16, 2007

Photos I should have posted long ago!

Hello, y'all! It occurs to me you haven't seen my landlady or roommate yet. So here's a picture of Irene and Rob on one of our many outings during the fall:

This is the view of Irdning, the town where we live, from the Gipfelkreuz (cross at the peak of a mountain):

I also didn't mention All Saints Day. I had a five-day weekend, because November 1 is a national holiday (Austria is very Catholic and even the public schools have a crucifix in the classrooms) and my school decided to take Wednesday and Friday as free days as well. The Austrians have only recently begun to celebrate Halloween, so that week I talked a lot about trick or treating and politically correct costumes in the U.S. (for those of you not in Iowa City, children are discouraged from dressing up as a witches because it is offensive to real witches!). The concept of T.P.'ing someone's house seemed to give my students all sorts of ideas!

There are a lot of traditions connected with All Saints Day in Austria, including Allerheiligen Striezel, which is a braided brioche loaf with raisins and Hagelzucker, big chunks of sugar on top. These goodies are then served with tons of butter, fresh from the Alm (mountain pastures).

That evening I joined friends to go to the cemetery. On All Saints Day, everyone goes to the graves of their relatives. There is usually a service in the cemetery in the afternoon. After dark, everyone returns to see the red votive candles lit on every grave. It is quite an impressive sight (not my photo). We also reminisced about our friends and family members who had died during the last year:

Nikki Gillam
Danielle Parks
Joan Koch
John VanGilder

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