Oh my goodness, is Christmas over yet? I’ve had enough parties and gingerbread to last me until next winter.
But no, we still have plenty of festivities left, at least in Germany.
Though the Americans have ripped off plenty of traditions from the Germans, there are still many differences. It’s my second Christmas in Deutschland, and I’m still not used to everything yet. Here’s a quick rundown of the German way…
- Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas. Advent calendars start December 1. Don’t confuse the two!
- Many families set up an Advent wreath, laid flat on a table with four candles. One candle is lit for each week of Advent.
- Germans are crazy about baking Christmas cookies. However, their cookies are not usually decorated as elaborately as in the US (probably due to the lack of available items!).
- Christmas trees are not put up until Christmas Eve, usually while the family (children) are at church. When everyone returns home, voila!, the tree is lit and presents are stacked underneath or tied on the tree. In some regions, the doors are locked to the room where the Christmas tree stands. Children must wait outside until a bell rings.
- Some families still use REAL candles on their Christmas trees.
- Stores often close by 2pm on Christmas Eve and do not reopen until December 27.
- Presents are opened on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day (and stockings are another day all together).
- The Christkindl, or Christ child, brings the presents, not Santa Claus!
- In some parts of Germany, the Weihnachtsmann (like Santa Claus) delivers the presents – in person. He doesn’t have a sleigh or reindeer.
- Germans have Christmas Day #1 and Christmas Day #2 (called Boxing Day in the UK).
- Sometimes the Christmas Eve meal is simple, followed by elaborate Christmas dinners on the first Christmas Day.
- Goose, duck, rabbit, lamb, fondue, and pork (of course) are typical centerpieces of the Christmas meal.
- Trees are often left up until the second week of January (after Three Kings Day – more on that to come!)
Of course not every German celebrates Christmas exactly like this and traditions vary by region. By and large, though, these are quite typical of German Christmas festivities. Did you find any traditions on the list that your family also observes?
Frohe Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas!)