Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Games Have Begun

Since I am supposed to be sitting at my computer preparing a fairly important (read: totally overwhelming and scary) presentation about my research, I thought I would instead write a quick blog entry about the opening of the World Cup last night.

Let me just say that I was thoroughly impressed with German pride. They can really pull it out! A walk around my block (not the neighborhood, just my one block) revealed flags hanging from balconies, flags attached to cars, normal people walking down the street with big flags and restaurants all decked out in World Cup décor.

By 5pm, meanwhile, the streets were empty. It looked like a Sunday morning and those who were out were mostly female. It reminded me of the Oprah Winfrey commercial in the 90’s: “It’s four o’clock, where’s everyone gone. It’s four o’clock, so Oprah’s on…” (Who remembers that commercial?)

I liked the opening ceremony. It was a fun mix of traditional and modern Germany with some international flares-- “where classic meets cutting edge,” as I think the motto of Germany should be. My only criticism was that the German children who stood with the German team while the national anthem was being played did not know the song and looked very confused. The players and the crowd seemed be singing along (props to them) but since the national anthem is not taught in German schools until around 5th grade, the little ones were left out in the dark. I know I knew the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and God Bless America by the time I was their age.

An interesting surprise was that after each goal, people in neighboring buildings shot off firecrackers and blew air horns. Aside from the obvious safety danger of shooting off a firecracker from one’s balcony in a densely populated area, it really added to the festive atmosphere! (Better than the guns that are shot off in downtown Philly on New Years!)

Can you find the Michael Ballack cookie?

I went to a party at a friend’s house. I felt all German going to a World Cup party, until I realized that the cookies made with soccer cookie cutters and the spinach and artichoke casserole that I was bringing with me revealed just how Mid-West America I really am:-) At the party, we were drinking mint juleps and pineapple juice with ginger ale—also not your average German sports party refreshments.

Okay, now that I have all the blog-able thoughts out of my head, I can go back to my presentation.

Happy Saturday!

P.S. Sunday addition... check out the World Cup Video on the front of the Washington Post website for reaction about the Tournament from various embassies in Washington!!


At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are neighborhoods in Berlin where people do fire guns (gas-pitols to be precise) to celebrate a goal... I was quite scared when that happened to me living in Neukölln...

Adding to your little exploration of beeing a fan: Yesterday I saw a young guy who dyed his hair like a soccerball (the classic ones with the black hexagons and the white spaces in between)...looked cool to me.

Personally I am a bit surprised seeing all the "German pride" (whatever that means) and all the flagging, as you have already hinted in your blog, some Germans do have mixed feelings about "German pride" ...let me just remind of the "No-Go-Area" Discussion going on...

On the other hand I am truly happy to see so many foreigners coming to Germany celebrating a big and hopefully peaceful and fair sport event. And of course I am cheering for our team ... Finale, oho, Finale ohoho...4:2....Finale, oho...:-)

Have fun!


At 4:37 AM, Blogger Erin said...

A gas pistol, holy cow! Maybe that is what is being shot off near me, but it sounded like a fire cracker.
The soccer ball hair-do sounds fun. I would argue that the picture that I just posted is a hair-don't!

It's interested that you are surprised by all the flags. I wonder if it was like this the last time Germany hosted? You are right that the reason there are "no-go areas" is not something to be proud of, but I don't think that means Germany can't be proud of its team, and hosting the games and all the other wonderful things about the country.

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Erin said...

As a side note, who knows what "toi, toi, toi" means?

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time Germany hosted the WM was in 1974. As I was born in 1977 - I can't say what was going on that time.
I justremember 1990 when Germany won the cup - it was right around our unification and a big treat to the country.
In 2002 Germany won second place (lost the final to Brasil) I remember that nobody expected this good result and people seemed to be proud of the team performance. But this time it has a bit more of a "nationality-feeling" with all the flags. But of course you are right we can be proud of hosting the cup! As I said before there is just some historic sensibility.

The Hair-do looked great! As did your soccer-cookies.

"Toi toi toi" means "Good Luck!"
There are too competeing explanations: Some say it used to mean "devil, devil, devil" ("Toifel, Toifel, Toifel" a superstitious calling of the devil - the opposite to "Oh Gott" - how this is related to luck I can't tell). The other explantation is that it is an echoism(?) (--> Lautmalerei) of spitting three times over your shoulder something said to bring good luck (like knocking on wood).

So toi toi toi Germany...:-)
and toi toi toi Erin for your presentation!


At 1:48 PM, Anonymous a fellow fellow said...

also not german: eating the leftover sugar cookies for breakfast the next day. so delicious! but definitely NOT the breakfast of champions!

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Erica said...

Hey Erin,

I can assure you that the Germany fans down here in Kenya are thoroughly excited about their team. I think there was definitely some anthem-singing at the German School (but since I don't know German, I'm not totally sure).

But there's definitley lots of flags, lots of "Deutschland, Deutschland" chants, and lots of beer (but it's Kenyan beer!)

Take care,


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