- Holidays and Celebrations
The Germans Christmas Tradition
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 / WeihnachtsmarktClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 / WeihnachtskranzClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 / WeihnachtskuchenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gingerbread House and other Christmas DecorationClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 ChristmasClick thumbnail to view full-size
German Christmas Market Video
© 2017 Thelma Alberts