My Christmas warm-up in England invariably included attending a carol concert, evenings of mulled wine with minced pies, opening a door of a chocolate advent calendar and deliberating over which Christmas cards to buy.

Well, there are no minced pies around in Germany, sadly little opportunity to belt out the soprano descant to ‚Hark the herald angels sing‘ and a chocolate advent calendar just doesn’t cut it among the accomplished homemade advent calendar creations that are on show here.

The Adventskranz, Plätzchen-making and evenings at Christmas markets after work drinking Glühwein and eating Wurst and Flammkuchen make-up for most of these losses.

The biggest casualty however has to be the lack of Christmas cards.  The problem stems not just from the poor supply (nice cards are hard to come by) but the barely existent culture of writing and sending them. And after 4 years, I seem to have succumbed to this cultural flaw.

Wasted paper and postage? Coming home late from work on december evenings to an empty flat was perked up by opening the odd brightly coloured envelope filled with christmas wishes from good friends from across the channel.

It’s a bit too late for this year, but my first resolution for the new year is to make more time to enjoy advent traditions and that will include sending more Christmas greetings. And maybe learning to bake some Plätzchen.