Christmas is such a special occasion in Germany that the celebration lasts for two full days. The second day, December 26, is called "zweite Weihnachtstag" (second Christmas Day).
Things You'll Need
- Christmas Gifts
- Advent Wreath
- Christmas Trees
- Nativity Scenes
Decorate your house for the season. Display candles in special wooden frames attached to your windows and hang colorful pictures on the glass.
Put up an "Adventskranz," or Advent wreath, with four candles to symbolize the four weeks of Advent. Light one candle for each week. Advent calendars are also popular in Germany.
Celebrate St. Niklaus Day on December 6, when Niklaus (the German equivalent of Santa Claus) brings sweets and small toys for the children. According to old tradition, a dwarf follows Niklaus with a sack full of switches (thin, long sticks) for children who are bad.
Arrange a Nativity scene in your yard. Build a small crib or stable to represent where Jesus was born. Include figures of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the animals.
Visit an outdoor crafts fair called a "Weihnachtsmarkt" (Christmas market) or "Christkindlmarkt" (Christ child market), which consists of vendors selling colorful handmade gifts. The Christkindlmarkt is especially famous in Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
Eat roasted chestnuts and drink "Gluhwein," a red wine that is served hot.
Plan to attend church on Christmas Eve day, if this is part of your family's tradition.
Expect Der Weihnachtsmann, or Father Christmas, to arrive late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve bearing presents to leave under the tree. Ask a family member to ring a bell to announce that the gifts have arrived.
Serve a Christmas Day meal of fish or goose followed by stollen and other traditional German sweets.
Visit relatives and deliver gifts on the day after Christmas.
Tips & Warnings
- "Merry Christmas" in German is "Froehliche Weihnachten!"
- Many American Christmas traditions - such as getting a Christmas tree for the home - originated in Germany.
- Germany is a cosmopolitan country made up of several ethnic and cultural groups, so Christmas traditions are quite diverse and cannot be generalized. The steps above represent a few examples of local traditions that may or may not be appropriate for your personal celebration of Christmas.
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