and welcome to day 6 of our Advent Calendar, and after yesterday’s theory stuff it’s time for a little leisure.
I want to tell you a bit about something that belongs to the German Christmas season like the common cold belongs to winter – you’re lucky to make it through without it. Get ready for… oh no… please noooo
Stop it. Go away, song!
I want to talk about
If you’ve been in Germany around Christmas, you’ll most likely know them. Plätzchen are basically little biscuits or cookies that are made during the advent season. They often have typical winter-related characteristics, like they’re spiced with cinnamon and almonds and come in the shape of stars and so on. There are countless versions ranging from the rock hard, flat pieces of sweet dough to little masterpieces with exotic spices and sophisticated Van Gogh frostings. The one thing that all good Plätzchen have in common, though, or at least I think so, is that they’re not perfect. Because Plätzchen aren’t really something you buy.
Plätzchen is something you make.
Plätzchen backen is one of THE most common family activities and kids really, really love it because they get to knead dough, eat dough and cut out trees, Santas and ponies from dough. In fact Plätzchen backen is actually so loved that people even do it with no kids around. Like… people in their 20s make Plätzchen-Back-Parties with gallons of Glühwein that slowly fades out the baking from the baking orgy. Oh boy, Plätzchen-Parties. Tinder is a monastery in comparison.
Seriously though, I think part of the reason why Plätzchen backen is such a big deal is that failure is completely okay. It’s okay if the Plätzchen are rock-hard and burned. What matters most is the process. It’s like drawing a mandala. Meditative.
I said earlier that Plätzchen is something you make… actually I should say Plätzchen is something you do.
And boy do people do it a lot. In fact, supply often exceeds demand by insane margins. According to the BS institute of statistics, there’s an over-production of 2.3 gazillion tons of Plätzchen in Berlin alone. Once Christmas is over, people simply throw their Plätzchen surplus out the window onto the streets where they pile up. Drifting dunes of crumbs roam the city blown about by the freezing cold winter breeze. Then the garbage collection company sweeps it up and it is burned in the Plätzchenheizkraftwerk, producing enough energy to shut down one Atomic power plant for an entire month thus making up more than double for what was spent for baking them. Plätzchen have a truly formidable heat value, especially the ones that are as dense as this paragraph and the best thing is: Plätzchen burn without emitting any green house gases.
They’re just that awesome ;).
Now you’re all like, “Emanuel, this is utter horseshit.” and I’m like “Yes, of course I have a recipe for you.”
As I said before, there are as many Plätzchen as there are snowflakes but here’s a pretty nice video that shows the variety a bit. And it has captions. And she’s really good at it.
Oh, and it’s called “Weihnachtskekse backen” and not “Plätzchen backen” because #ironic.
Have you noticed how soothing the lady talks at the end? It’s like a meditation instruction video. As I said… Plätzchen isn’t something you make, it’s something you do :).
So now we’re left with one question: why are they called Plätzchen? Well, one theory says the name essentially means “little spots/places”. But another theory makes just as much sense to me… they’re called Plätzchen because they might make you platzen.
I’ll leave it up to you to look that up. What’s your Plätzchen story? Do you bake these kinds of cookies in your country? Have colleagues or friends brought Plätzchen? Did you like them? And do you know ways to say that you did (like them, I mean) even though you didn’t?
Let me know in the comments below and win maybe today’s give-away (I’ll reveal what it is, I promise :).
Hope you had a little fun today. Schönen Tag euch und bis morgen.
Oh… here’s another video, because… why not. This one shows even better how much effort Germans put into their Plätzchen.