German Christmas traditions witness celebrations for a whole month, as it begins with advent and carries on from there. According to German folk legend, on Christmas Eve, bells can be heard over the mountains, rivers turn to wine and animals speak to one another.
At the start of advent, another one of the many German Christmas traditions sees the opening of many Christmas markets known as Weihnachtsmarkte. Here items such as decorations, ornaments and different items of food and drink that is consumed over the holiday period.
One of the most unique German Christmas traditions is the hanging of a wreath in the home with a candle on each of the four corners. At the start of advent, one candle is lit every Sunday until Christmas Eve. This wreath is known as the Adventskranz. Germany is where the Adventskranz or advent calendar originated, prompting many countries of the world to follow suit.
At the beginning of advent, shoes or socks are put on window sills by children on December 6th, normally accompanied by a note to St Nicholas. This is in anticipation of a visit from Christkind, a messenger with a book of sins. German Christmas traditions indicate that if a child is good, then their stocking will be filled with gifts, but if they have been naughty, the stocking will be filled with twigs.
It was Germany where the traditional Christmas tree and decorations originated. The elders of the family decorate the tree and hide it from the children until Christmas Eve. German Christmas traditions ensure that the tree is decorated with bells, candy and Christmas crafts. Also used for decoration, is a popular German pastry known as Christbaumgeback.
On Christmas Eve, when the Christmas tree is revealed, German Christmas traditions ensure that this is the start of the celebrations, presents are exchanged and families join together in a feast.
A traditional Christmas dinner in Germany, would consist of roast rabbit or goose. Another great favorite, is sauerkraut with potato and apple dumplings.
Christmas Day is much more sombre and quiet, reflecting on the religious meaning of Christmas. Then on the following day, time is spent helping the needy and spreading good will to all.
On January 6th, King’s day is commemorated with the children dressing up and singing carols.