Christmas, or “Weihnachten,” is a joyous and cherished holiday in Germany that brings families and communities together. In this article, we will explore the historical significance of this day, why it is a public holiday, the traditions, regional specialties, and, of course, what Germans eat on this special day.
Christmas in Germany has deep historical roots dating back to the Middle Ages. The holiday has evolved over time, combining Christian traditions with pre-Christian customs. One of the most enduring symbols of this festival’s celebration is the Christmas tree, which originated in the region and was popularized by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Today, Christmas in Germany is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and to spread warmth and goodwill.
In Germany, Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday on December 25th and 26th. It’s a time when most businesses are closed, and people gather with their loved ones to commemorate the occasion.
Christmas Traditions in Germany
Germans have a host of unique traditions associated with Christmas. Advent calendars and wreaths are used to count down the days until December 25th. On December 6th, children eagerly await Saint Nicholas’ arrival, who leaves small gifts and treats in their shoes. Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) pop up in cities and towns, where visitors can enjoy mulled wine, gingerbread cookies, and shop for handcrafted gifts. Caroling and nativity scenes are also essential components of the holiday.
Each region in Germany has its own unique traditions and specialties. In Bavaria and Austria, people still uphold the tradition of Krampus, a horned and hairy creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas. Craftsmen in the Erzgebirge region craft intricate wooden ornaments and figurines. The Saarland specializes in well-known gingerbread houses, while the Rhineland features parades and processions during the festive season.
Things to buy on Christmas
During Christmas, people like buying presents for their family and friends, such as advent calendar, winter clothes, gadgets or home appliances, or special gifts. They also get decorations like ornaments and lights to make their homes festive, and many have a Christmas tree. Greeting cards with good wishes are popular, and some have calendars with surprises each day until Christmas.
What Germans Eat on Christmas?
Christmas Eve, or “Heiliger Abend,” is the main day of celebration in Germany. Families gather for a festive meal that typically includes roast goose, duck, or a hearty Christmas ham. Potato salad and sauerkraut are common side dishes. Stollen, a sweet fruitcake, and marzipan treats are popular desserts. Gingerbread, known as Lebkuchen, is a beloved holiday snack. On morning, children find presents under the tree.
This festival in Germany is a time of rich traditions, delicious food, and heartfelt celebrations. Understanding the historical significance, the reason for it being a public holiday, the unique traditions, regional specialties, and the delightful cuisine can help anyone appreciate the beauty of this festive season in Germany. So, whether you’re planning to visit or simply want to embrace the spirit of German Christmas at home, you now have a glimpse into this enchanting holiday.
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