Finding Happiness and Health in Thankfulness
The crisp air of November ushers in a season of gratitude in Vienna as leaves fall from trees and rain gently taps the ground.
With Thanksgiving, just around the corner in the USA on November 23, a day steeped in tradition and thankfulness, we’re reminded of similar sentiments of gratitude, generosity, and togetherness echoed in Vienna’s Ganselessen tradition linked to St. Martin’s Day.
This newsletter edition explores these traditions, examining their historical roots and contemporary resonance. From the folklore of Saint Martin to the culinary delights of Ganselessen, join us as we unfold a rich buffet of stories about gratitude in Vienna.
Saint Martin’s Legends: A Journey through Folklore
Saint Martin, a name synonymous with history and mystique, is at the heart of fascinating folklore in East and Central Europe.
My childhood memories are filled with stories of Saint Martin, or Martin Kerpan as he’s known in Slovenia, blending history, culture, and entertainment into narratives of generosity and gratitude.
November 11th in Austria heralds a variety of celebrations:
- The beginning of “Fasching”, or the carnival season, is marked by eating krapfen, jelly or cream-filled doughnut-like pastries.
- The start of the ball season.
- Kindergarten children parading through the night with lanterns in honour of St. Martin.
- It’s the official opening of the Gansellessen season.
These tales are more than just stories; they are the threads that weave the historical and cultural fabric of Vienna and Central and Eastern Europe. In celebrating Saint Martin, we embrace a legacy that has shaped our community’s spirit, extending to the tradition of Ganselessen.
Culinary Delights: Vienna’s Ganselessen Experience
As a food enthusiast, I find Ganselessen (eating goose) irresistibly tempting.
Picture this: walking into a Viennese restaurant and being greeted by the rich aroma of roasted goose – that’s the essence of Ganselessen!
I’ve relished this traditional fare at various local spots, each adding a unique twist to the age-old recipe. In this article, I guide you through my top picks for authentic Ganselessen in Vienna. You may find inspiration here for your Thanksgiving celebrations, too! What’s your favourite Thanksgiving dish? Please share your culinary experiences with us!
Health and Well-being During the Holidays
The holiday season, joyful as it is, can bring its share of stress, particularly during flu season. Having spent several holiday seasons away from home, I’ve gathered strategies to maintain emotional and physical well-being during these festive times.
In addition to offering practical tips on preparing for flu season, I share insights on staying emotionally balanced amidst the festive rush. Remember, your health is the key to thoroughly enjoying the holiday spirit!
Faith, Friendship, and Festivity: Support in Challenges
Viennese culture is richly woven with faith, friendship, and festivity. I’ve experienced the power of this combination at our weekly heuriger gatherings, where stories and laughter flow as freely as wine.
These gatherings are more than social events; they symbolize the resilient community we’re part of.
Our group, aged 50 to 85, meets every Thursday after church. This intergenerational mix offers a spectrum of insights into life’s joys and challenges, helping us to gain perspective or celebrate our blessings. It’s a unique way of experiencing gratitude in Vienna.
Our weekly gathering exemplifies the strength and support that faith and friendship offer, fostering a nurturing ground for community spirit and faith. How has your community supported you in challenging times? Please share your stories with us!
A Musical Treat
I’m excited to share a musical treat with you, often called a “musikalische Schmankerl” (musical delicacy) in Vienna.
It’s a typical Heurigen (wine tavern) song named “A Klein’s Laternderl,” (small lantern) composed by Gibisch, an “Alt Österreicher” born in the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, now part of the Czech Republic.
Later, moving to Vienna, Gibisch found his calling in music rather than becoming a city official. He popularised his compositions as a bar pianist and through his connection with RAVAG, the first Austrian broadcasting company. Listen to “A Klein’s Laternderl” here.
A Message of Thanks and Good Wishes
As we conclude this edition of our newsletter, we celebrate our shared journey.
Our multicultural platform is a beacon of support, community, and friendship. We hope to emulate the spirit of Vienna’s heuriger gatherings, creating a virtual space that transcends boundaries.
We aim to foster understanding and belonging through the stories and insights we share. We invite you to reflect on your own experiences of gratitude and share them with our community.
Thank you, our valued readers, for turning this newsletter into a vibrant hub. Let’s continue to nurture our bond of friendship and support.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may this season fill your hearts with gratitude, joy, and togetherness.
With Warmest wishes,