Christkind or Weihnachtsmann? Christmas in Germany

Christmas traditions in Germany vary a lot, depending on the area you live in, and also if this area is predominantly a Catholic or Protestant one.  We even have two entities bringing presents: the Christkind and the traditional Santa or Weihnachtsmann. Most Germans do share one of the following traditions though:

The start of all Christmas-related actvity (especially as it is also the opening day of our world-famous Christmas Markets) is marked by the first Advent-Sunday, four weeks before Christmas. Most families will light the first candle on their Advent wreath, adding a burning candle each week until all four candles are burning on Christmas Eve.

market

(image via)

The first important day for most children is December 6 (Saint Nicholas day), when they have to put their shoes outside the door to have Santa Claus fill the shoes with sweets and little presents. This does depend on if the children have been naughty or nice: nice children will receive the aforementioned sweets, naughty children only get a “Rute“, or rod, to represent the fact that they’d have received a spanking back in the old days.

The one main difference to most European Christmas celebrations is that for Germans Christmas Eve is the most important day. Though no official holiday, most people will finish work around noon, to be home in time to set the tree and prepare the elaborate evening meal. And it is after this dinnner that children will receive their presents, so you can imagine the state they are in come dessert (or even worse, come Papa’s cigarette after dessert).

After the unwrapping and connected commotion most families will settle down for the evening to watch TV or chat under the Christmas tree, though in some areas families will attend late Mass around ten in the evening.

A nice local tradition from the Rhineland is that instead of serving a vast, multi-course meal people will sit down to a helping of sausage and potato salad. After all that hassle you had before the holidays, chasing down presents and preparing the household, Mama does not want to spend hours and hours in the kitchen.

After all the feasting and excitement on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are reserved for visiting relatives and friends (and more eating), and of course to relax and wind down. And to start thinking about the plans for the New Year’s Eve-party.

Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr! (Merry Christmas and a happy new year!)

This was the last in our series of Christmas around the world posts.

Read the rest here:
Sunny Christmas: Christmas in New Zealand
Magic Christmas – Christmas in Catalunya
Christmas regained – Christmas in Romania
Windy Christmas – Christmas in Costa Rica
White Christmas – Christmas in the UK

About the author

Marcel Krueger
Marcel is a German expat living in Ireland and working for an online company with a colourfull logo. He loves doing stuff with words, and did not go to school to learn this. He likes Heavy Metal and trains and dislikes many other things. He is so old he still buys CD’s, but has not yet caught up with the idea of becoming an adult.
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2 Comments

  • Nuria

    Very nice post Marcel! :)
    I loved Christmas in Germany 4 years ago..The Christmas markets are sooo beautiful, where I ate the famous huge sausages, and drank the hot wine! Delicious!

  • marie

    Oooohh, the Christmas markets are one thing I’ve always wanted to see! Thanks for your post:-)