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The Germans Christmas Tradition

Updated on December 7, 2017
Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts is a natural born Filipina who lives in her adopted country Germany for more than 3 decades. She loves traveling in Europe.

My first Advent decoration.
My first Advent decoration. | Source

It is the time of the year again when I feel cold and unmotivated to go out of the house because of the freezing weather of winter. This winter is not as cold as it used to be in the 80´s when I first set foot on the ground of Germany. Climate has changed indeed since then, I have changed myself too.

Christmas is the best part of the winter when the shops are fully decorated with Christmas decorations. When women start decorating their windows at home after cleaning it and baking cookies for the Advent Sundays before the Holy Eve. When on the first Advent Sunday, the first candle of the 4 candles of the Advent wreath is lighted. Then comes Nikolaustag aka Saint Nicholas Day on the 6th day of December, whom the small children are looking forward to see. When the parents hide Nikolaus in form of chocolates packed in a Christmas socks or stockings filled with sweets, oranges and nuts of all kinds.

Christmas Market / Weihnachtsmarkt

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Christmas Market in Wesel, Germany.Christmas  Market stall selling different kinds of Christmas decorations.
Christmas Market in Wesel, Germany.
Christmas Market in Wesel, Germany. | Source
Christmas  Market stall selling different kinds of Christmas decorations.
Christmas Market stall selling different kinds of Christmas decorations. | Source

German Christmas Tradition

1. Advent Wreath and the Advent Sundays

Advent wreath or Adventkranz as we call it in German, is a wreath with 4 candles to be lighted every Sunday, the four Sundays before the Holy Eve. Sometimes, the first Advent is still in the last month of November. This time the first Advent is on the second of December.

During the Advent Sundays, the wreath will be lighted, one after the other. The family celebrates the Advent by having coffee, cakes and self-baked cookies baked by the mother or any member of the family at home. It is a homey family bonding when plans for the Christmas celebration is being discussed and what gifts one would like to have.

2. Nikolaustag / Saint Nicholas Day

Nikolaus Tag is on the 6th of December. It is the day after the Saint Nicholas Day celebration in The Netherlands. It is said that before Saint Nicholas came to Germany, he first visited Holland (aka The Netherlands).

Nikolaustag is celebrated on the death anniversary of Bishop Nicholas of Myra who came from Anatolia, Turkey. He is the patron saint of small children, merchants and students. When he was still alive, he used to give gifts secretly to good children.

On the night before the 6th of December, the children bring their boots ( if not shoes or stockings) before their house doors hoping that Saint Nicholas would drop by and put chocolates, nuts, oranges and maybe toys inside.

3. Adventskalendar / Advent Calendar

Adventskalendar is a Christmas calendar which only counts up to 24 days. Each day has its own window. Every day the window is opened, a sweet treat or a chocolate is revealed in form of an angel, a little Santa Clause or even a toy. This calendar is very helpful for a child on counting how many days left before the birth of baby Jesus.

4. Tannenbaum / Christmas Tree

Christmas tree is a real German tradition. It is usually made of fir, spruce or pine decorated with traditional wooden ornaments like Christmas angels or carved Christmas ornaments. Some are made of crystal balls and figurines. The Christmas tree is then lighted with real live small Christmas candles. Nowadays, modern Christmas trees are decorated mostly with plastic decoration and an electric string of candles which can produce different colors.

5. Weihnachtsmarkt / Christmas Market

During the advent time, Christmas markets / Weihnachtsmarkt are open in almost every city in Germany. Some of the best Advent markets are in Dresden, Nuremberg, Aachen, Munich, Berlin and Cologne.

Christmas market is a festive event in Germany. It is beautifully lighted with colorful Christmas lights. There are plenty of stalls where different Christmas decorations are for sale. Nutcrackers made of wood, Christmas wooden pyramids, Rauchermaenchen ( German smokers) for burning incense, wooden tinsels, gingerbread houses and cookies, candles, Christmas wreaths, dolls, Christmas bulbs ( Weihnachtskugel) made of glass, figurines made of glass or porcelain, Christmas plate and many more.

Besides Christmas decorations, food and drinks are served in the Weihnachtsmarkt. An array of food like grilled sausages such as Bratwurst and Thuringer, fried fish or sausages in bread rolls, sauteed champignon, roasted chestnuts and many more that makes your mouth water. The mulled wine called Glühwein / Gluehwein is a German Christmas hot beverage one would love it or not. It is served in a ceramic mug but you have to give the vendor a deposit for that mug. You will get your deposit money back when you return the mug to the vendor. The smell of Gluehwein is strong but it surely heats your body while strolling at the cold winter day or night at the Christmas market. The atmosphere of the Christmas market makes you want to buy more gifts for your loved ones.

6. Christmas Pyramid

Christmas pyramid is one of the best ornament for Christmas. Some cities build huge wooden pyramids in the center of the city near the Christmas market. This pyramid is mostly in 3 storeys. They are powered by the heat of the lighted candles which turn the fans on. There are also small sizes of Christmas pyramids for decoration at home on the window sill or as a centerpiece of the living room table.


Christmas Wreath / Weihnachtskranz

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Flower shop selling Advent Wreaths.Advent candles for sell at the flower shop.
Flower shop selling Advent Wreaths.
Flower shop selling Advent Wreaths. | Source
Advent candles for sell at the flower shop.
Advent candles for sell at the flower shop. | Source

Christmas Pyramid

German Christmas Celebration Days

1. Holy Eve

On the 24th day of December, just like other Catholic people in other countries, the Germans are busy preparing for the Holy Eve dinner which is mostly at 7 in the evening. Some of the Germans, have just put up their Christmas tree that morning, they close the doors to where the Christmas tree is located so that the small children could not see it before the feast. They wait until the evening comes and gather at the table to have their scrumptious Christmas dinner with maybe boiled potatoes, beetroot, roast meat and black forest cake for dessert. After dinner, a child would recite a poem or sing a song before the gifts are distributed to all family members. Going to the church is either before midnight or on the Holy Eve afternoon, which is a special Mass for children and old people who couldn´t attend an evening or midnight Mass. Holy Eve in Germany is a silent night compared to other countries.

2. First Christmas

The 25th of December is called the first Christmas. The small children are relaxed playing their toys which they have received the night before. This day is the time to spend with the parents-in-law at home having a wonderful lunch, coffee and cakes in the afternoon and again dinner in the evening.

3. Second Christmas

I am glad there is a second Christmas day. It is the time we can be together with friends or with the parents of the wife or the husband. The same procedure as the first Christmas day.

Christmas Cakes / Weihnachtskuchen

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My self baked Christmas cake a few years ago.My self baked Christmas cake and cake pops made a few years ago.
My self baked Christmas cake a few years ago.
My self baked Christmas cake a few years ago. | Source
My self baked Christmas cake and cake pops made a few years ago.
My self baked Christmas cake and cake pops made a few years ago. | Source

Gingerbread House and other Christmas Decoration

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My selfmade gingerbread house.My chocolates Christmas decoration at home.
My selfmade gingerbread house.
My selfmade gingerbread house. | Source
My chocolates Christmas decoration at home.
My chocolates Christmas decoration at home. | Source

Merry Christmas 2017

Thank you very much for reading. I will update this every now and then. Maybe I have missed something. So long for now. Merry Christmas to you and I hope you will have a happy and prosperous year 2018.

Some Food for Christmas

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Baked chicken.Black forest cake.Cheese bread slices.Rye bread with raw spiced pork meat.Rye bread slices.Mettbroetchen or bread rolls with raw spiced pork meat.Croissants, eggs. tomatoes, cucumber, ham and cheese slices.Rye bread, bread rolls and multi grain bread rolls.Knoedel / potato dumplings with roast pork and brown gravy.Onion soup with meat balls.
Baked chicken.
Baked chicken. | Source
Black forest cake.
Black forest cake. | Source
Cheese bread slices.
Cheese bread slices. | Source
Rye bread with raw spiced pork meat.
Rye bread with raw spiced pork meat. | Source
Rye bread slices.
Rye bread slices. | Source
Mettbroetchen or bread rolls with raw spiced pork meat.
Mettbroetchen or bread rolls with raw spiced pork meat. | Source
Croissants, eggs. tomatoes, cucumber, ham and cheese slices.
Croissants, eggs. tomatoes, cucumber, ham and cheese slices. | Source
Rye bread, bread rolls and multi grain bread rolls.
Rye bread, bread rolls and multi grain bread rolls. | Source
Knoedel / potato dumplings with roast pork and brown gravy.
Knoedel / potato dumplings with roast pork and brown gravy. | Source
Onion soup with meat balls.
Onion soup with meat balls. | Source

German Christmas Market Video

© 2017 Thelma Alberts

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    • Thelma Alberts profile image
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      Thelma Alberts 4 weeks ago from Germany

      I know Nell. I have been to England many times and my hubby has English relatives living there. Thanks for the heads up as I didn´t know about Queen Victoria started this giving presents the day after Christmas.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
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      Thelma Alberts 4 weeks ago from Germany

      Thank you very much Dabby Lyric. I am glad I have shared this and you liked it.

      Merry Christmas to you, too and to your family. God bless.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 weeks ago from England

      Happy Christmas Thelma! We don't have 1st and 2nd Christmas days, but we do have Boxing day, the day after Christmas day! This was started by Queen Victoria back in the 19th Century, as she gave out boxes or presents on the day after Christmas!

    • Dabby Lyric profile image

      Dabby Lyric 4 weeks ago from US

      Hello Thelma,

      Thank you so much for sharing such stunning picturess and giving us insight on how Germans celebrate Christmas! I learned quite a bit and appreciate you taking the time to share this with us.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 4 weeks ago from Germany

      Thank you very much, Peg Cole. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, too.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      What a lovely and enchanting tradition. Your photos are beautiful! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 6 weeks ago from Germany

      Thank you very much, Susan. Merry Christmas to you, too.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 6 weeks ago from Germany

      Hi Linda. Thank you very much for reading my hub. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. I love being in Germany during Christmas. I have missed it last year as we were in the Philippines. I wish you a Merry Christmas 2017 with your family. Take care.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I really enjoyed learning about how Christmas is celebrated in Germany. Merry Christmas!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 6 weeks ago from Germany

      Hi Martha. Really? I think I have not met a German from the U.S. I am glad that you like my Christmas candle decoration. Thanks for dropping by. Have a wonderful Christmas in advance.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed reading this article very much, Thelma, especially so close to the first Advent Sunday. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It was lovely to discover how you celebrate the season in Germany.

    • Martha DeMeo profile image

      Martha DeMeo 6 weeks ago from Little River, South Carolina

      I love the Christmas candle in the decorative glass! Thanks for sharing your German traditions, I just happen to be German!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 6 weeks ago from Germany

      Hi Peggy!

      It´s nice to hear from you again. I hope you are fine. Yes, there are huge Christmas pyramids in some cities in Germany, mostly near the Christmas markets. It seems that the food reminded you of your loved ones. Potato dumplings are indeed yummy with brown gravy. I don´t make them myself but just buy the ready made potato dumplings ready to be boiled.

      I wish you and your family a happy Christmas too and a prosperous New Year 2018. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image
      Author

      Thelma Alberts 6 weeks ago from Germany

      Hi Nell. Yes, of course, you can visit the Christmas market in Germany. You can spend a weekend just to see the Christmas market before the celebration. I am sure you will find something for giving gifts on Christmas. Check the opening time of the Christmas markets before you book for a flight to Munich or Dresden for example. Thanks for dropping by. Have a great week.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 weeks ago from England

      So cool! I would love to visit Germany at Christmas! We don't have two Christmas days, but of course we have Boxing day in England where we eat the left overs from the day before! lol!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Dear Thelma,

      Thanks for sharing what it is like in Germany during the entire Christmas season. I had no idea that those candle lit pyramids were made life sized in towns and cities! Those photos of food at the end have me drooling! My grandmother and mother used to make those potato dumplings and smaller ones with some cracker meal. I wish I had those recipes. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas this year!