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Do you remember your first Christmas in Basel?

What stands out the most? Strolling through the stalls of the Christmas Market for the first time? Hot raclette on a cold December night? The smell of spicy mulled wine, a favourite ornament that still hangs on your tree, your first taste of Swiss gingerbread, the white lights across the Rhein?

Whatever your most memorable part of the season, it’s all starting this weekend with the grand opening of Basler Weihnachtsmarkt 2013…

The Basel Christmas Market, the largest in Switzerland, runs from 28 November to 23 December, kicking off with the annual lighting ceremony at Münsterplatz. Governing President of Basel-Stadt Dr. Guy Morin will begin the ceremony, which will feature the Musik Akademie Basel and Theater Basel’s Extra-Chor. Enjoy live Christmas music while you warm up with free refreshments!

The Christmas Market extends over Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz with more than 100 stands and stalls—handmade crafts, ornaments, scarves, specialty soaps, toys, and more, along with Christmas treats from Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) to chocolate truffles to sausages and chäschüechli (cheese pie).

A few favourites of the Christmas season are the annual Stadtlauf on 30 November, a run through Basel’s festive streets past Christmas lights and decorated shop windows; the Basel Wish Book at Town Hall, where guests from all over the world can record their wishes and hopes for the coming year; and the Basel Theater Advent Calendar, when every night during advent, the theater’s foyer opens up for a literary or musical surprise.

Barfüsserplatz ChristmasOther events to look forward to are the Snow White ballet, Santa Clauses on Harleys, the Christmas Tattoo, a carol sing, a tower night climb at the Münster, and lots more. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Spielzeug Welten Museum for this year’s window display and a special Christmas exhibition—Christmas, Sweet and Crunchy, where you can try holiday cakes and cookies from all over the world.

With a perfect balance of tradition and innovation, there’s always a chance to revisit your best-loved memories or try something completely new, whether you’ve been in Basel for one season or twenty.

Stop by www.basel.com for more info and an online brochure.

Barfüsserplatz photo by basel.com

Dear Heidi,

Is it true that you have to be careful of pickpockets in Basel? It seems such a safe city!

Beth

Dear Beth,

 

Yes, Basel is a generally a very safe city. Unfortunately, pickpocketing has increased, especially during the many Messes (fairs) it hosts throughout the year. Herbstmesse, Weihnachtsmarkt, Fasnacht, and BaselWorld are perfect examples!

If you’re in a crowd, hold on to your purse. Carry long-strapped handbags across your chest. Smaller sized handbags that you can clutch under your arm are safer. Go for something that can be zipped shut — open purses are open invitations.

Wallets are easy to pick from your back pockets. Try keeping them in your front pocket. A rubber band tied around the wallet makes it more difficult to slide out. In a public place, don’t place your jacket on a clothes hook or around a chair without first taking out your wallet! It’s better not to take all your valuables and money with you. If possible, leave them in a safe at your hotel. If not, don’t keep all your money in the same place.

Watch out for pickpockets on crowded streets, restaurants, public transport, and train stations. Remember what your Mutti told you. Don’t talk to ‘needy’ strangers!

Above all, be alert! Know where you are going and what’s going on around you. Distracted or clueless people (especially those reading out of maps!) are easily spotted and make nice, easy targets. If you feel unsure about anything, go with your instincts. It’s better to be safe than polite!

Be careful, but don’t forget to have fun!

Heidi

Updated October 2019

Basler Fasnacht
11 March | 04.00 – 13 March | 04.00

Carnival in Basel is an experience like no other. It’s extravagant, it’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s a great big deliciously cacophonous mess. The biggest carnival festival in Switzerland, the Basler Fasnacht is an historic and fun event that you must experience at least once in your lifetime.

Morgästraich

Merz and Qadaffi as Punch & Judy © nicestalan
Merz and Qadaffi as Punch & Judy © nicestalan

It all starts with Morgästraich, that moment at 4:00 in the morning when, after what feels like the entire city has gathered downtown, the lights go out and the Cliquen (groups who are part of the festival) start their first march, all at the same time. Hundreds of Fasnächtler, or Fasnacht-participants, dressed in elaborate costumes compose the Cliquen, playing their tunes with flutes and drums, marching in a massive parade of colours and lighted lanterns, with bright handcrafted carts and displays usually saturated with political satire. (Try to attend this with a Swiss friend so they can explain the jokes!) And the Fasnächtler carry on as the morning dawns, taking breaks to warm up now and then at a local bar before heading out again.

After the Morgästraich, join some friends to try some Mehlsuppe, flour soup (a Fasnahct tradition), at one of the local restaurants or pubs. You can also try other local specialties Zwiebelkuchen, a pie made of onions and bacon, or chäschüechli, a cheese quiche. Many restaurants are open for the entirety of the drey scheenschte Dääg…

Die drey scheenschte Dääg

Waggi Confetti ©nicestalan // Flickr.com
Waggi Confetti ©nicestalan // Flickr.com

The carnival itself lasts for 72 hours straight, running until Thursday morning at 4:00 a.m. These three days, called the drei schöoenschte Dääg or the ‘three most beautiful days,’ are a non-stop celebration, with special parades on Monday and Wednesday called Cortège as well as other parades all throughout the city. Another fun part of Fasnacht is the Guggemusik — brass bands who play everything from classic folk to modern pop songs. The Gugge participate at Cortège on Monday and Wednesday, but Tuesday night is dedicated especially to the Guggemusik, with concerts spread out through the centre of the city, at Barfüsserplatz, Marktplatz, and Claraplatz. Buy a klöpfer and Feldschlösschen lager at the food stand and enjoy a fun evening of lively music.

Tuesday is also the day for the Children and Family Fasnacht, where children can take part in the marches with their parents.

Monday through Wednesday evening, you can catch ‘Schnitzelbänke,’ when performers sing satirical songs about current events and personalities. More info.

Throwing Räppli

You’ll enjoy dozens and dozens of floats during the parades, and you might get thrown an orange or other treat from one of the wagons. But you might also get stuffed with Räppli — colourful paper confetti. (And once it gets in your house or flat, you’ll be able to remember Fasnacht all year long, as you’ll continue to find it during your housekeeping for the rest of the year!) The best way to ward off confetti-throwers is to buy a Fasnacht Blaggedde, a badge or pin worn during the festival, which you can buy in the weeks leading up to Fasnacht. Yet even with the pin, there’s a fairly good chance that you’ll still get showered in Räppli at some point during the festival!

Fasnacht Treats

Besides Mehlsuppe, Chäschüechli, and sausages and beer, there are several treats you can look forward to for Fasnacht. Try Faschtewaihe, a white, pretzel-shaped bread topped with cumin seeds found at bakeries like Sutter and local supermarkets. For a sweet treat, head to your favourite confiserie, Migros, or Coop for some Fasnachtschüechli—delicious deep-fried pastry topped with powdered sugar.

There’s much to love about Fasnacht! What’s your favourite part of the festival? Tell us in the comments!

For more info, visit Fasnachts Comité at www.fasnachts-comite.ch or Basel Tourism.

Photo Credit: Noel Reynolds

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861

Elizabeth dedicated this poem to her husband, poet Robert Browning. To whom she also penned these words, For I have none in the world who will hold me to make me live in it, except only you – I have come back for you alone…at your voice…and because you have use for me! I have come back to live a little for you. I love you – I bless God for you – you are too good for me, always I knew.’

Read more at Analysis of Poem “How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

culture shock
noun
Anxiety and confusion overwhelming a person suddenly living in a culture, with a way of thinking or set of attitudes, that is completely foreign to them.

Basel © michaelcamilleri // Flickr.com
Basel © michaelcamilleri // Flickr.com

People have been talking about culture shock since the late fifties and early sixties. The late Dr. Kalervo Oberg has been credited for making much use of the term, and thanks to the advances made by a highly technological world, we find greater numbers exposed to culture shock.

What Is It?

Basically, culture shock is feeling like a fish out of water—like the new kid on the block. Or the first time you had to wear braces or glasses and everyone stared at you like you were some kind of freak. Or when the bully got at you in school. Except with culture shock, no one’s really trying to intimidate you—it’s just a new language or something that is making your self-esteem take a huge bashing.

Remember how great it felt in eighth grade—you were cool and the younger ones looked up to you! Then after you graduated you entered high school—new rules, new students, and you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Think about when you entered college!

Culture shock is very similar to that, with the exception that you don’t understand what’s being said. So take a deep breath and remember that how things turn out is up to you. Embrace the challenge—you got through high school, didn’t you? This could be one of the best experiences of your life.

Culture shock has pretty much settled into four stages:

Honeymoon phase:
You’re in a new place—everything is unique and exciting. This phase is all about checking out new places, customs, traditions, foods, bars, and people!

Negotiation phase:
Sooner or later, depending on your background and experiences, anxiety and melancholy start to set in. You miss your friends, family, your grocery store, your TV programs, the ability to speak your language and have people understand you clearly, knowing what the people at the next table to you are saying, and even just humor! You miss the spontaneity of joking and having someone understand the joke. Now you have to figure out what things mean, where to find your favorite foods, how friendships work. You just want to go home.

Adjustment phase:
Again, this phase is up to you. Sometimes it takes six months, for some a year. You develop your routine, sleeping habits get better, your starting to figure how things work, what makes the people tick, where to get what, and if you’re learning a new language, you’re being able to communicate with others. Keeping in contact with others is a key element here. Try to find places where you can use your new language as well as interact with those who speak your mother tongue.

Mastery phase:
This is the been-there-done-that stage. You’ve figured out how to get around, got your new network of friends, enjoying communicating in a new language—you rock! The important thing to remember here is that you’re embracing the culture and contributing to it. It’s not about you or having things your way. It’s sharing the best of your culture and appreciating the wealth of your host country.

And keep in mind, when you return to your homeland, there’s reverse culture shock…but you’ll work through that one too!

Symptoms of Culture Shock

Now that we understand what it is, let’s look at some typical symptoms:

    confusion
    bouts of crying
    eating disorders
    obsessive compulsive actions
    irritation
    feelings of inadequacy
    loneliness
    melancholy
    hypochondria—endless symptoms of illness
    unending lethargy and sleep
    fear and anxiety
    the grass is greener on the other side mentality
    easily overwhelmed
    blaming your spouse (or others) for the move
    questioning your decision making ability

Of course, everyone will have different symptoms, but usually you’ll try to cling to the past and what is familiar. The quicker you move forward, the faster you will adjust and enjoy yourself. If you have any prior psychological problems, just be sure to check with your doctor before you make the move so you’re well prepared to deal with the changes.

Serious symptoms include:

    depression
    thoughts of suicide

Don’t feel ashamed or scared to ask someone for help if you are feeling this way.

Fighting Culture Shock

This could be the best time of your life—for your family and for you! Approach it like a battle to win and come up with your own strategies to win it. If you know how long your assignment is and where you’re going, start your preparations ahead of time, develop a Life Value statement and goals to accomplish. Figure out what you want to see happen and how you’re going to do that.

If you have young children, find out all you can about the schools and what will be best for your children’s needs. There are an abundance of things to do for families, learn to make the most of what’s being offered to you.

If your spouse’s job requires a lot of extensive travel, calculate ways to maximize your time together (not just a list of how hard things are for you on your own!). If the travel is taking a toll on your marriage or health, figure out what you can do to alleviate the situation. Sometimes it might mean not extending the initial contract and returning home.

Count your blessings and don’t be too hard on your family or yourself. It takes a bit of time to adjust to a new country.

If you’ve given up a job to follow your spouse on their assignment, don’t focus on what you miss about your own work and find fault with your current situation. Instead, use this time to spend with your children, or if you don’t have that privilege, develop some new job or life skills for yourself. You’ll never regret it.

Stop complaining…period! It’s the fastest breeder of discontentment.

Volunteer wherever you can.

Find a fun support group—maybe it’s a church or an organization from your home country.

One thing that can’t be stressed nearly enough—learn the local language! Yes, they may speak English, but it’s not only courteous to be able to communicate in their language when you’re living in their country, it is an experience you cannot get back home and one you must embrace. Seeing you trying will go a long way in making your new country friends easier on you.

Feelings of sadness are normal, but if they persist and are getting in the way of your daily life, you need to seek the care and counsel of someone qualified to help you.

Remember—enjoy everything you can about where you are, because good or bad, nothing lasts forever!

By Dr. John I. Snyder, Guest Author (University of Basel Alumnus)

We want holidays to be merry, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic cited some of the below as factors that tend to make the holidays not very happy:

  • Connecting the holidays with family problems or painful memories
  • Expecting that you should feel happy
  • Dealing with the loss of a loved one, or spending the holidays away from friends and family
  • Developing unrealistic expectations, or thinking about negatives that have occurred during the past year
  • Dealing with changes in the family, such as divorce or death

In addition to the above, and the normal anxiety of not meeting holiday expectations, the past few years are some of the toughest many feel they have experienced in a long time—unemployment, debt, bankruptcy, broken hearts, life-threatening illnesses, and seemingly no hope for the future.

Instead of holiday joy, maybe despair—a sense of hopelessness, no way out, the end of the line—is what we’re feeling. Our problems seem to have no solutions. They’re all too big, too complex, too out of control to fix, and it appears that indifference to each other’s needs is growing. What is overtaking so many of us is worry and hopelessness.

Are you there now? You’ve hoped and prayed the worst wouldn’t happen, only to stand by and watch as it does. Or perhaps you’ve hoped for a long time for something but still received no answer, and you wonder, Why won’t won’t it happen for me—it does seem to happen for everyone else? Our most diligent human efforts have produced nothing.

So this is Christmas. But what does that mean?

It means—Immanuel, God with us! The birth of Christ gives us hope—no matter what our circumstance. Regardless of how we may feel at any given moment, Jesus assures us: Do not worry! He himself promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

So we have a God who makes an exit where none existed before, a God who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), who opens not only a doorway out, but also a doorway in. That’s something we call an “exodus”—a way into the Promised Land—a real solution, a rescue, a better life.

The reality we find is that no one is immune to life’s trials and tribulations. We’ve faced tough times, been betrayed, had our trust broken, faced our losses, headed in one direction, but found ourselves going in an opposite and better one. If you’ve found yourself there, you’ll come to realize that your life is being directed by a loving and gracious Father. His plan is unchanging and his ultimate goal for us is the very best.

So instead of giving in to despair and discouragement, consider this promise from the Psalmist who had seen every trial and been delivered from the worst, “See that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

What to do while you wait? Consider different ways to serve others, commit to prayer, immerse yourself in new projects, learn a new skill, get together with friends who increase the positivity and joy in your life, do some writing therapy, laugh at some of the things you’re going through, and plan one fun thing to do each day.

And God will grow you in ways you don’t expect. In time, you will discover that God is far more faithful and generous than we deserve.

This Christmas, remember that whatever else claims a place in your life, hopelessness should not. As long as we have Christmas, we have every reason to hope, to enjoy, and to rejoice. Don’t give up; in Christ, the better and brighter day will come.

____________

About the author:

Dr. John I. Snyder is an international pastor, conference speaker, and author of the new book “Resenting God: Escape the Downward Spiral of Blame” from Abingdon Press. He is also the author of “Your 100 Day Prayer” from Thomas Nelson Publishers, a transformational 100-day guided prayer journey, and “Reincarnation vs. Resurrection” from Moody Press.

John has been featured on Focus on the Family, Moody Radio, Fox News, Faith Radio Network, Cru, American Family Radio Network, In the Market with Janet Parshall, The Bottom Line with Roger Marsh, Miracle Channel, Bill Martinez Live, and many more.

As an ordained Presbyterian pastor, John has served congregations in the United States and planted churches in California and Switzerland. He is currently pastor of Starnberg Fellowship, an international church in the Starnberg/Munich area. He is the advisor and lead author for theology and culture blog Theology Mix (theologymix.com), which hosts 80+ authors and podcasters, and visitors from 175 countries. He received his Doctor of Theology degree magna cum laude in New Testament Studies from the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he studied with acclaimed professors Bo Reicke, Markus Barth, Martin Schmidt, and Jan Milic Lochman. He also has Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

You can find some of his articles in academic journals, online magazines, and newspapers including Theology Today, Theology Mix, Outreach Magazine, The Christian Post, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Dialog, Theologische Zeitschrift, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, The Washington Times, and others. John has also served on the adjunct faculty of New College Berkeley as well as the World Journalism Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @johnisnyder or connect with him on LinkedIn. Dr. Snyder and his family reside in Germany.

Take a deep breath, look around you, and you’ll know there’s only one time of year it could possibly be. It’s Christmas again! The excitement in the air, nights sparkling with all colours of lights, shop windows all decked out…Basel is dressed its best and ready to celebrate.

The Basler Weihnachtsmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Switzerland, runs until 23 December with festive music, gifts, and delicious holiday refreshments. Kicking off with a spectacular opening ceremony at Münsterplatz, 22 November at 18:30, the Christmas lights will be lit by President Dr. Guy Morin to the musical backdrop of Knabenmusik Basel and the Basel Theater Extra-Chor. Free refreshments are provided, so you can warm up with hot tea and mulled wine as you walk the city streets soaking up the start of a brilliant season.

This year brings some exciting new things to look forward to as well—it will be the second year for Münsterplatz to host its own special Christmas Market, and starting 29 November, children can even make their own Christmas gifts for family and friends at the Robi-Spiel areas. More events to watch out for are the Basel City Run, We Will Rock You musical (by Queen and Ben Elton), numerous Christmas concerts, “The Emperor of China and the Christmas Story” presentation at the Basler Marionetten Theater, and lots more for all ages. 

And most of all, what would Christmas be without hope? Join people from all over the world in adding your Christmas wishes for this year and the next in the Basel Wish Book at Town Hall.

Click here for more details about Weihnachtsmarkt in Basel!

So now, with the season around us and the new year just ahead, it’s hard to believe it’s been another year already. For us at Basel Community, Christmas marks the one year anniversary of our site. It’s been an exciting year for Basel, for us, and we hope it has been for you too! Let us know how you’re doing—your favorite memories of Basel at Christmas, your Weihnachtsmarkt must-dos, what you feel and see as you go about the city this year…we always love hearing from you. From all of us at Basel Community, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

For more information and a complete list of everything you can expect this year at the Weihnachtsmarkt, visit http://www.basel.com/en/christmas-basel-–-winter-fairy-tale.

Theaterfestival Basel presents an international, biennial festival program featuring a range of genres and forms: from city projects to renowned dance and theatre productions, performances, nouveau cirque and installations.

After three hugely popular editions under the direction of Carena Schlewitt, the theatre festival (29.08. – 09.09.2018) will continue the successful work done so far with artistic director Tobias Brenk at the helm.

Read more at theaterfestival.ch.

Previous:

Theatre Festival Basel, 29 August–9 September 2012

“Looking at the World Through Different Eyes”

18 productions from twelve countries, 46 shows on twelve days, 288 hours real life!

Don’t miss this year’s international theatre festival in Basel featuring artists from the world of contemporary theatre and dance! Performances will be held at various locations in Basel. Detailed information of all shows in English is available on the theatre’s website: www.theaterfestival.ch/en/spielplan.

Prices

CHF 45/25 for performances at Kaserne Basel (Reithalle) and Theater Basel (Grosses Haus)

CHF 35/20 for performances at Kaserne Basel (Rossstall), at Theater Basel (Schauspielhaus), Theater Roxy Birsfelden, and junges theater basel

CHF 10 for concerts

Special

Students (under the age of 26 – need proof of age documentation) are able to book at the ticket desk of the venue any remaining tickets 10 minutes before the beginning of the show. Discount price: CHF 15.

All venues are fully wheelchair accessible. Admission is free for the accompanying person. Wheelchair seats need to be reserved by telephone: +41 61 666 60 00.

A Theaterfestival-Ticket also gives you accesss to the tram, bus and local trains in the TNW-network (Basel and Basel Country) on the day of the show.

General concession prices are applicable to students, customers with disabilities, theatre employees and senior citizens. Proof of status must be presented at the venue.

No reservations by telephone!

Ticket Sales

– Online (24-hours a day, seven days a week ) at www.starticket.ch (print at home or iPhone Ticket)

– Box Offices in Basel at all post-offices and Starticket Box Offices, such as Manor, Migros-Claramakt, BVB-Kundenzentrum Barfi, BaZ am Aeschenplatz, Coop City Pfauen & Gerbergasse. (A booking fee of CHF 2 applies.)

– All over Switzerland post-offices and Starticket Box Offices offer Tickets for Theaterfestival Basel. Find a list of all Boxoffices at www.starticket.ch. (A booking fee of CHF 2 applies.)

– Festival Box Office at Kaserne Basel, from 12 noon to 9pm. No booking fee to tickets purchased in person from the Festival Box Office.

Pre-performance Sales: One hour before start of show

More info at: www.theaterfestival.ch/en

Basel, city on the Rhine // © FestiveSearch // Flickr.com
Basel, city on the Rhine // © FestiveSearch // Flickr.com

What: Official Basler Rheinschwimmen 2012
When: August
Where: Starts at Schaffhauserrrheinweg 93 and ends at Höhe Leuengasse/Johanniterbrücke.

Thousands of swimmers gather from around the city to join in an annual fun-filled float along the Rhein River. A much loved tradition, you can expect to find the Rhein teeming with buoys, swimmers, and balloons as everyone celebrates another summer cruising past river banks and under bridges, seeing Basel in a completely new way.

A few things you may need: a “Schwimmsack” or swim bag, where you can keep dry clothes to change into after your swim (it also doubles as a float—available at MMM Claramarkt and MParc Dreispitz) and some good swim shoes. As always, be cautious—watch out for bridge piles and strong currents. And bring your friends! You know what they say…never go swimming alone.

Photo credit: RTEMagic