Silvester: Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

2011 in fireworks

Today we are celebrating the end of 2010; and once again these sorts of traditions remind me of how I used to celebrate them back home in Austria.  As everywhere in the rest of the world it is a big hoopla in Austria too, with parties galore and fireworks everywhere.  But we don’t call it New Year’s Eve, we call it Silvester. Continue reading

Merry Christmas & Fröhliche Weichnachten

“Stille Nacht Gedächtnis Kapelle” (Silent Night Chapel) in Oberndorf, Austria

It is Christmas Eve, and I would like to take this opportunity to share a little history about my favorite Christmas carol, and in my humble opinion also the most beautiful.  “Silent Night” (or in German “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) was written by Joseph Franz Mohr (1792-1848), a poet and vicar in Wagrain, a mountain village south of Salzburg, and coincidentally the place I was born.  On Christmas Eve of 1818 he presented a poem, which he had written two years earlier, to his friend Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863), a primary school teacher, organist and choir master in Oberndorf, another small town north of Salzburg, and he asked him to compose a melody for church service. Continue reading

Nature is the ultimate designer: Winter

Frost on a spider’s web at Pickmere Lake in the Cheshire countryside in Knutsford, UK (Photo: Christopher Furlong)

While most of Europe is covered in snow and temperatures have gone to unusual lows, even in the Southern parts, Mother Nature is creating chaos on the roads and in airports.  As travelers are struggling I wanted take a moment to enjoy some of the beauty that gets laid out before us during Winter. Continue reading