Germany or the Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in western-central Europe. The country consists of 16 states and its capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany has a largely temperate seasonal climate and millions inhabitants. It is the most populous member state in the European Union. Germany is the major economic and political power of the European continent and a historic leader in many cultural, theoretical and technical fields.
One of the major holidays in Germany is Christmas or Weihnachten. The Christmas celebration is a time for introspection and share with family and friends besides involves customs and many traditions. A big part of the Christmas celebrations in Germany is Advent. Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys.
The traditional German celebrating begins on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. As part of the tradition the children hang a shoe or boot in the fireplace. During the night, St Nicholas visit house by house, if the children have been good the boots are filling with delicious candies but if they have not been good the boot are filling with twigs.
According to legend, in Germany during Christmas Eve a lot of magic things happen. The rivers turn to wine, the ringing of the church bells can be listened from the depths of the sea, animals speak to each other, tree blossoms are full of fruits and in a magical event the mountains open up and reveal precious gems; but only the pure of heart can be part of this magic.
The most popular Christmas tradition in Germany is the Christmas tree. These trees have a special significance for Germans and also are known like “trees of life”. As Germans immigrated to other lands, the custom of Christmas trees was spread. The people buy holiday cookies and marzipan sweets of the bakeries that in this season are well stocked. A variety of toys and other gifts are offered in the outdoor markets. Also the people wish each other “Merry Christmas” or Weihnachten. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is traditional too; is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.
Before the evening feast, is presented the Christmas tree which is decorated with candies, cookies, apples, angels, candles, lights and toys. All the presents are placed under the tree and decorated plates full of nuts, marzipans chocolates, biscuits and fruits are prepared for each member of the family.
The sound of the bell announces that everything is ready to share this magical moment with the family. A Christmas story is read, the presents are opened and traditional Carols are sung.
Officially, the German Christmas begins the first Sunday of Advent or Adventszeit. The lights in the exterior decorations of houses, business and the city streets, beautiful gingerbread houses, traditional Christmas cookies, German Christmas pyramids and nativity scenes are signs that Christmas is coming.
In Germany, there are important figures like the angel called Christkind who is a messenger of Christ Child and brings with a basket of toys; other recognized figure is the “Christmas man” called Weihnachtsmann who looks like Santa Claus. Other popular German tradition in Christmas is the Christbaumloben on December 26th, St. Stephen’s day, friends visit each other announcing their arrival with the popular phrase “Ein schoener Baum!” or “A nice tree!”. They stay a while in the house before moving on to the next house to make the same proclamation.
In some parts of Germany, children write to the ‘Christkind’ (‘The Christ Child’ in English) asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent.
The Christkind is often described as a young girl with ‘Christ like’ qualities. In Nürnberg a young girl is chosen every year to participate in a parade as the Christkind. She wears a long white and gold dress, has long blond curly hair and wears a gold crown and sometimes wings like an angel.
The Nürnberg Christkind officially opens the Christmas market on the Friday before Advent starts. And before Christmas she has over 150 ‘official duties’ including visiting hospitals, old people’s homes and children’s nurseries! She also has to give TV interviews and visit other cities.
Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents on December 24th. December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening. In some regions of Germany, there is a character called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus” who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December. He is big horned monster clothed in rags and carries a birch. He will punish the children who were bad and will give them a birch as a present. He is usually the one who scares the little children. In other parts of Germany, St. Nicholas is followed by a small person called “Schwarz Peter” (Black Peter) who carries a small whip. Black Peter also accompanies St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas in Holland. In north west Germany Santa is joined by Belsnickel a man dressed all in fur.
Some people say that Santa/Father Christmas (Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents and some say it is Christkind!
At small work places and school parties, secret presents are often exchanged. A door is opened just wide enough for small presents to be thrown into the room. The presents are then passed around among the people until each person has the correct present! It is thought to be bad luck to find out who sent each present.
Carp or Goose are often served for the main Christmas meal. Stollen is a popular fruited yeast bread that is eaten at Christmas. Here is a recipe for Stollen.
Over the in Germany and Austria, the famous Ski Jumping ‘Four Hills Tournament’ (‘Vierschanzentournee’) is held. It starts in Germany with Oberstdorf (Germany) on the 29th or 30th December and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) on New Years Day and continues in Austria with Innsbruck (Austria) on 3rd or 4th of January and Bischofshofen (Austria) on the 6th January. I’m a big Ski Jumping fan, so I watch it!
Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.
Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.
In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.
Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing.
In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.
In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child’s messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents.
In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables.
In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.
In German Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Frohe Weihnachten’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
Christmas is beautiful celebrated in the cities of Germany like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover, Wiesbaden, Kiel, Magdeburg, Erfurt, Mainz, Saarbrücken, Potsdam, etc
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 & Prosperous New Year 2017 !!!