5 German Christmas Traditions

5 German Christmas Traditions

 

Christmas Market in Jena, Germany by Rene Schwietzke  

In Germany, Christmas decorations appear before December 1st has arrived! It’s a beautiful scene with the snow covered Straße (streets), colorful lights, Christmas-themed markets and warm treats. Country customs make every nation unique. Enjoy reading about these annual German traditions you won’t want to miss. 

  • Advent Christmas Calendar: This German Christmas tradition consists of a candy or chocolate- filled Christian calendar. These calendars have individual treats hidden behind each day of the month. The idea is to open each day as it occurs. The first Advent Calendar was printed in Germany in 1908 and then gained popularity in the US. It serves as a daily reminder that Christmas is right around the corner. Enjoying a pastry or strudel is the best way to wake up in the morning, whether you’re an adult or a child!
  • Christmas Markets: Mid or late November, most German cities and villages jump into the Christmas spirit by organizing themed pop up markets called Christkindlmarkt. These last through the entire month of December in various locations around town, offering warm traditional beverages such as mulled wine, local crafts, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and marzipan, an almond-based sweet.
  • Sankt Nikolaus Eve: Saint Nicholas Day is a traditional holiday in various regions of Germany, especially in Bavaria, as well as other countries in Europe. Celebrated the night of December 5th up to the evening December 6th, the holiday consists of a family member or neighbor dressing as Saint Nicholas or der Heilige Nikolaus and delivering gifts to children. Although this traditional holiday and character might have inspired the resemblance to Santa Claus, they aren’t meant to be the same Christmas character.
  • Christmas Eve: Known as Heiligabend in German, Christmas is the most important day in Germany’s holiday culture. December 24th is considered to be a regular work day; however, many businesses work for half day to prepare for the holiday celebration at midnight. On this day, families gather together to decorate the Christmas tree, sing Christmas carols, have a traditional Christmas meal, read stories about Jesus and exchange gifts. Also, many German families attend a midnight mass called Christmette. The 25th of December is usually a day to relax and enjoy with the family. Many people attend church services or simply take the day off to prepare for the winter sales.
  • Day After Christmas:  December 26th or der zweite Weihnachtstag is also known as the second day of Christmas, a German legal holiday, and is a quiet day to recover. Many Germans prepare for the winter sales that often begin on December 27, which is sometimes known as the third day of Christmas.

 


Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the Corporate Marketing Manager and Event Coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Sophie has co-written more than 30 blogs since graduation. She’s a passionate foodie, and an avid e-scooter rider. Follow her foodie Instagram account or Connect with her on LinkedIn.


 

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