The Christmas celebrations in Germany start on December 6 on St. Nicholas day when people spend the entire evening in preparation of cookies and spiced cakes. The day also witnesses Christmas toys including little dolls of fruit. It is believed that on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, St. Nicholas visits the households in Germany with gifts and candies for children. As per the tradition, they hang a boot or shoe in the fireplace and in the morning, feel delighted to see the gifts that are waiting for them. Advent forms the core of Christmas celebrations in Germany with people preparing advent wreaths made of Holly of four red candles. Germany also has a kind character who is known as 'Christkind', a lady with the characteristics of Christ and who visits hospitals and schools with gifts. There are plenty of interesting traditions that await you during Christmas in Germany. Read further to know more about some of these traditions.
Customs, Traditions & Celebrations
Advent forms a prominent part of Christmas celebrations. There are different types pf calendars used in German houses including the traditional ones which are made of card and ones made of wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes or bags hanging from it. You will get a get a gift in each one of the bags or boxes. Another type of advent is called 'Advent Kranz' which is a ring of 'fir' branches which has four candles in it. These are similar to the ones which are used in churches; one among each candle is lit at each week of Advent.
There is also the tradition of hanging up advent wreaths made of Holly with four red candles in the central portion. One candle is lighted each Sunday with the last being lighted on Christmas Eve. Children count the days till Christmas with the help of advent calendar. On each day, they open a window to find a Christmas picture inside.
There is a belief in Germany that baby Jesus sends a messenger on Christmas Eve who is known by the name Christkind. The messenger appears as an angel in white robes and crown and distributes gifts to children. She is believed to be a pretty fair-haired girl with a crown of candles and have 'Christ' like qualities. In Nurnberg, every year, a girl is chosen to dress as Christkind. Wearing a long white and gold dress, she possesses long, blonde and curly hair. It is said sometimes, she wings like an angel. Before Christmas, she visits hospitals, old age homes and children's nurseries. It is a tradition in Germany that children write letters for Christkind on their windowsills. The letters would be decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar so that they sparkle.
German Christmas Dinner
For Christmas, Germans prepare cookies and ginger bread houses. The German Christmas tree pastry which is known as Christbaumgeback is a whitish dough which can be moulded into varied shapes and baked for decorating trees.
Christmas trees have an important role in the Christmas celebrations in Germany. These trees which are known as 'trees of life' are brought into the houses on Christmas Eve. On the evening, the family read the bible and sing the Christmas songs. The homes in Germany would be glowing and glittering with Christmas trees with some houses having several Christmas trees. In some cases, parents lock up a specific room before Christmas. On Christmas eve, kids go to bed early and woken up by the parents and taken to the locked room. Once the door is opened, they see the lit-up trees with gifts on the tables.
Germany is also popular for Christmas markets where you can buy Christmas foods and decorations. The most famous among the Christmas decorations which you get in this Christmas markets are glass ornaments of varied shapes and sizes, wooden angles, straw stars and lebkuchen baked in varied shapes. The German pickle ornament is regarded one of the most prominent one used to decorate the Christmas tree.
Father Christmas Or Santa Claus
Father Christmas or Santa Claus brings gifts to children on December 24. This figure is known as Weihnachtsmann or Christmas man who resembles Santa Claus. On December 6, Germany also celebrates St.Nicholas Day where St. Nicholas brings gifts to children. In some regions of Germany, he is accompanied by 'Kramppus' or 'Knecht Ruprecht', a horned demon who punishes bad children. In other areas of Germany, St. Nicholas is followed by a small person known as 'Schwarz Peter' who carries a small whip along with him. In North Western parts of Germany, Santa is joined by Belsnickel, a man dressed in fur.
Thrown Gifts In Office Parties
In Germany, there is also the tradition that in school and office Christmas parties, the doors are opened and small presents are thrown into the room. Following this, the presents are passed on from one person to another till he gets the right present. It is regarded as back luck to find out the person who sends the right present. According to some people, it is Santa Claus who sends these presents while others say that it is Christkind who sends the wishes.
Another popular tradition which is followed in Germany is that of Sternsinger who go around from houses to houses, sing a song and collect money for charity. As per this custom, four children, who dress up as three wise men and one who carries a star on a stick symbolising the star of Bethlehem go around from one house to another and sing songs. It is regarded back luck to wash the sign and it has to fade by itself.
Germans welcome Christmas with all fervour and enthusiasm. Hope this article familiarised you with the Christmas traditions in Germany.
Plenty of interesting traditions and customs are in wait for Christmas in Germany. Read on to know more about Christmas in Germany.