A German Christmas is certainly a special affair which traditionally begins with the first Advent – the advent are the four Sundays before Christmas Eve on the 24th of December. Christmas markets open, the streets are decorated and the traditional foods have begun to be served. December is a time of many Christmas themed events, end of year work parties and performances at school for children.
Here are just some of the main events in a German Christmas:
Advent calendar – Adventskalender – this is a calendar counting the 24 days until Christmas. Something all children (and some adults!) look forward to opening all through December. They commonly contain chocolate or little pictures behind the doors, but many parents make the calendars for their children including small gifts & sweets. The calendar makes the wait for Christmas Eve sweeter!
Advent wreath – Adventskranz – this is a wreath decorated with 4 candles, each symbolising one of the four Advent Sundays, four seasons and the four periods of life. Every week a new candle is ignited to count the weeks before Christmas Eve. The wreath is usually made of pine or evergreen plants.
Christmas Market – Weihnachtsmarkt – this one needs little explaining. Small Christmas villages pop up all over the city, a place to take in the Christmas cheer, meet friends, buy gifts and ornaments, drink Glühwein and fill your belly with treats. At least one visit to a Weihnachtsmarkt before the 24.12 is tradition.
Christmas Cake – Weihnachtsstollen – this is a traditional cake which is found in Germany only during the festive season, it is also referred to as Christstollen. It is a sweet yeast-based dough filled with dried fruit and nuts with a powdered sugar topping. The most famous Stollen comes from Dresden. Stollen has been around since the 15th Century.
Christmas Eve – Heiligabend – In Germany, Christmas Eve 24.12 is the main event. It is the day which all the children are waiting for as gifts are exchanged on Heiligabend. The food on this evening is varied, however, it is common that people will eat potato salad and würstchen, goose with red cabbage or even carp. It is not a public holiday but stores tend to close around 2pm in order for people to get home in time to start celebrating. 25.12 is a public holiday and all stores are closed.
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‘Berliners’ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.