Montag, 17. November 2014

Celebrating Christmas in Germany

German Christmas Traditions


The German Christmas season officially begins with the first Sunday of Advent ( 30th Nov 2014)
Stollen, the oldest known German Christmas treat and Christmas cookies are often baked during this time. Gingerbread houses, nativity scenes, hand - carved wooden Nutcracker figures, Christmas pyramides and lighted city streets and homes are all signs that Christmas is on its way.

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath is adorned with 4 candles. One of which is lit on each of the four sundays preceding Christmas. You can read more about this tradition in a previous post

The Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar is a German invention that was originally designed to involve children in the festivities leading up to Christmas. The calendars are usually made of cardboard and have 24 small windows or flaps, one of which is opend on each day leading up to Christmas and contain chocolate or candy behind each window and sometimes even small toys.

My earlyer version of an Advent Calendar made of 24 matchboxes for hubby

Below's my latest version for my 4 years old grandson

Decoupaged with an owl napkin and painted with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics

Christmas Markets

When the Advent season opens, Christmas Markets also crop up in nearly every German town, large or small. The town squares, normaly dark early in the winter months, are lit up and buzzing with activity during this time. Townspeople gather together, listen to brass band music, drink beer or hot mulled wine or apple cider and enjoy the hearty traditional fare of the region.

A short impression from a Christmas Market in Moselle - Valley from Santatelevision

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th in Germany as well as in other European countries. On the evening before the 6th, children place their newly cleaned shoes in front of the door in the hope that Nicholas might fill them with nuts, fruits, chocolate and sweets. If the children have behaved well, their wishes will be fulfilled. Children who have caused mischief will only receive a switch, which symbolizes punishment for their bad deeds.

The Christmas Tree

The tradition of the Christmas Tree began in Germany during the middle ages and the first trees were undecorated.
Today, the Christmas Tree is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve,
though some families opt to erect their tree during the Advent season. Traditionally , the Germans used the fir tree, but nowadays the spruce is widely used. Decorations may include tinsel, glass balls or straw ornaments and sweets. A star or an angel tops the tree and beneath the tree, a native scene might be set up and the presents next to it. Germans also usually continue to use real lit candles instead of electric lights on the trees.

The Christmas Tree is taken down on New Year's Day or on January 6th, Three King's Day, at which the children can ransack the tree for the sweets and treats that decorated it.

Christmas Eve

December 24th begins as a regular workday. But by 2.00 pm, often even earlier, businesses close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The tratitional evening meal includes carp and potato salade. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of  Christ's birth aloud. Family members exchange gifts; children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. The tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve was started by Martin Luther in the 16th century in favor of a celebration that honored Christ rather than a Catholic saint.
On Christmas Eve, German families, whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church - goers - often attend mass of a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the early evening hours.

Christmas Day(s)

Both December 25th and 26th are legal holidays in Germany and known as the first and second Christmas Day respectively. Businesses are closed and time is spent with visiting extended family. Goose is the traditional fare on the first Christmas Day or perhaps rabbit or a roast. These are accompanied by traditional fare such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage and potato dumplings. The second Christmas Day is usually a quieter time, a day for peaceful contemplation.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas!
May lots of presents be under the tree and may you have a peaceful and fun time among your family and friends



die amelie hat gesagt…

Ein toller Adventkalender, Elly,

und ein lehrreicher Post obendrein ;)
Gern gelesen und betrachtet!

Dann wirds wohl Zeit, sich an den Stollen zu machen!

Liebe Grüße,
Claudia x

JackieP Neal hat gesagt…

Oh Elly!!
Thank you so very much for the wonderfully detailed explain of your counties traditions and holiday! I sat here in awe reading and envisioned lovely family visits and tables filled with feasts! I am now going back to watch the videos- Thank you so much! xo

And btw, your cards are so well done and your grandsons advent boxes is absolutely wonderful! I am sure he will squeal with delight!! email coming soon! ")

jinxxxygirl hat gesagt…

Thank you Elly! My husband, daughter and i spent three lovely years in Germany. (Kaiserslautern) And out of all the places we have lived we miss Germany the most.......Thank you for allowing me a little reminiscing.. :) Hugs! deb

Little Artbee hat gesagt…

Hallo Elly, das sind ja ganz zauberhafte Weihnachtsimpressionen,die du uns da zeigst. Deine beiden Adventskalender sind voll das Kontrastprogramm, einmal edler Vintage-Look und einmal niedlich, was ich von dir bisher noch nicht kannte. Aber Beides total schön. Die Karten sehen auch sehr edel aus, ganz toller Stil.
Ich hoffe dir geht es gut und du kannst die kommende Adventszeit auch etwas genießen.
Liebe Grüße

massofhair hat gesagt…

Wonderful post Elly, i spent one Christmas in Austria where the celebrations are similar, really loved the real candles on the tree and all the food was amazing.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Season full of magic, hope and love :-) xxx

By the way your cards and advent boxes are amazing!

butterfly hat gesagt…

We have lots of German traditions in our household - having so many European connections - and so yes, we will be writing letters to to Father Christmas and building gingerbread houses on 30th November. There will certainly be Stollen being baked, but maybe not on the same day!!

The matchbox Advent Calendar looks amazing, and I love the one you have created for your grandson, as well as your lovely cards. The patchwork ones might be my favourites I think.

Sorry I've missed so much, but I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of visiting.
Alison xx

Gio hat gesagt…

I love love your cards, and the latest advent calendar is so cute!

Happy festive time, Elly. Lucky for us is too early :-)

Yvonne hat gesagt…

Danke für den schönen Weihnachtspost!
LG Yvonne

Maelchen hat gesagt…

Hallo Ellychen, Dankeschön! Jetzt bin ich erstens völlig aufgeklärt über die deutsche Weihnacht und dementsprechend auch in feierlicher Stimmung! Dein Adventspost ist sehr süß! Sowohl was den Text angeht, als auch die Bilder... Wie vielseitig Du bist... Du hast es geschafft, den niedlichen Adventskalender für Deinen Enkel ganz ohne Zahnräder und Rost zu fertigen. Na, der Kleene wird sich aber freuen!
Wie wir Mädels so sind... Wie wir unsere Männer verwöhnen! Mit liebevoll selbst gebastelten Adventskalendern... Ob sie das so schätzen, wie wir das würden? Oder geht es da nur um den Inhalt! Na ja, der Weg ist das Ziel und man sieht, dass Dein Weg, das Basteln der hübschen Stücke, nicht mit Stolperfallen und Steinen ausgelegt ist :-). Ich wünsche Dir ein schönes Wochenende, liebe Elly und halte mich mit Adventswünschen noch etwas zurück, da ich doch hoffe, vorher noch etwas von Dir zu sehen zu bekommen!
Knutschi von Manu