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Christmas Traditions in Germany

Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Ever wondered how Christmas is celebrated in the Deutschland? Well, read ahead to find out all about Christmas traditions in Germany!
Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.
~ Francis C. Farley
Christmas has arrived - well, almost, considering it's Christmas Eve today! All of you out there must have been done with all your preparations for Christmas - well, at least you would have been done with most of it if not all!
This is the time when people all over the world break free of inhibitions and shake off all reservations to celebrate the birth of the Nazarene and welcome the new year with open arms and warmth in their hearts.
Christmas around the world is celebrated in many different and interesting ways. Here is a peek into the Christmas traditions in Germany and how the Deutsche celebrate the arrival of Christ every year.

Christmas Traditions Observed in Germany

Christmas in Germany is a month-long affair of festivities, socialization and celebrations. The preparation for Christmas commence well before the beginning of December and the festivities and traditional observations continue till the first week of January.
The 25th of December, which we know as the Christmas Day, is known as Weihnachten in Germany. The following paragraphs discuss the various German Christmas traditions that are observed to celebrate this festive stretch of winter.


Advent is the day that falls four Sundays preceding Weihnachten and is celebrated by making Christmas wreaths of fir or pine branches and decorating them further with four candles.
For every succeeding Sunday till Christmas, each of these candles are lit and this is accompanied by eating cookies, sweetmeat and singing Christmas carols and songs.


Lebkuchen are spicy cookies that are baked in almost every German home during the weeks that lead up to Christmas.
Besides these cookies, loaves of sweet bread and cakes with candied fruit fillings are also baked in most households, filling the air with the tempting aroma that prompts you to wonder if something's cooking (wink!)! Bakeries present a festive extravaganza of goodies like sugar candies and marzipan that entice the sweet tooth and seduces the palate!

St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas covers for Santa Claus in Germany as it is to him that German children write letters requesting for presents. Some children also write letters to the Holy Child. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on the 6th of December every year.

Christmas Eve

The Eve before Christmas is considered by many to be the most important day of Christmas traditions in Germany. This night is believed to be magical and legend has it that even animals can speak human tongue on this night!
The tradition of having and decorating a Christmas tree started in Germany and on the Christmas Eve, families come together to decorate the Christmas tree and arrange a manger scene beneath it. The Christmas tree is richly decked up with ornamentation and craft materials and a golden angel is placed on top of it.
The Christmas presents are piled under the brightly lit and colorfully decorated branches of the Christmas tree and all the children of the house wait eagerly to hear the bell which is a prompt for them to rush into the room to behold the tree. Christmas poems are recited, songs and carols are sung and gifts are exchanged among each other thereafter.
An old tradition of children leaving their shoes out on Christmas Eve is still followed in many parts of Germany. Most of the time, these shoes are filled with carrots and hay so that St. Nicholas' horse gets some refreshment as St. Nicholas rides by the house.


The last Advent candle is lit on this day to mark the arrival of Christ. This is a day of family get together and all family members and close relatives attend church and have Christmas dinner together.
There is a lot of after-dinner fun, merriment, anecdotes and festivities that take place in the living rooms in the glow of merrily crackling flames at the fireplace on Christmas.


January the 6th is marked as the Epiphany and it is the Twelfth Night after Weihnachten. On this day, young boys dress up as the Magi who visited Baby Christ in his manger to pay their respects and to offer Him presents. These boys carry a pole each with a star fixed on the top and carry it around the town, singing Christmas carols.
For the days that fall between Weihnachten (25th December) and Epiphany (6th January), German residents beat drums as a sign of warding off evil and trickster spirits.
That, precisely outlines Christmas traditions in Germany. So, get your Christmas carols list ready and take out that family organ and dust it well so that it can accompany your carols with its deep, melodious bass.
Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Sure we did!