Christmas Traditions In Germany

by Melissa

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All you need to know about Christmas in Germany!  Learn about the Christmas traditions in Germany including German Christmas food, Adventskalendar, and more plus how Christmas is celebrated in Germany. 

This post is part of our Christmas Around The World series

GERMANY-CHRISTMAS-TRADITIIONS

GERMAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Did you know that Germany is home to many of the most popular American Christmas traditions? 

I didn’t know this until I lived in Bonn, Germany and quickly saw how Christmas in Germany is magical! If you ever have the chance, visit Germany in December! The Christmas markets, food, traditions, songs, and decorated town squares are so festive! 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS IN GERMANY 

While there are other popular Christmas traditions in Germany, this list includes the family-friendly ones! Kids will love these fun traditions. Pick one or two and add them to your Christmas season! 

ADVENT WREATH (ADVENTKRANZ)

An advent wreath, or “Advent Kranz” is a popular German Christmas tradition. This wreath is made of fir branches and has 4 candles placed around it. Advent is celebrated on the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. On first advent, the first candle is lit. On 2nd advent, the next candle is lit plus the first. And so on until all candles are lit. 

The candles signify the brightness that comes because of Jesus Christ’s birth. 

Related: How To Celebrate Advent Sundays 

Advent-Sunday

PYRAMID 

German Pyramids are found everywhere in Germany! Many families have their own pyramid in their home. Typically, each family will have a level for each member of their family.  

ADVENT CALENDAR (ADVENTSKALENDAR)

Christmas in Germany: The Advent calendar is a world-wide Christmas tradition that started in Germany! A small treat or gift is opened on each day of December. Most advent calendars end on December 24th because that is when the festive celebrations begin. 

December 25 and 26 are days when most families get together for German Christmas food and religious celebrations like Mass. 

GERMAN CHRISTMAS FOODS 

A typical German Christmas dinner consists of duck, goose, or roast. Of course, there are many great side dishes, too, including apple and sausage stuffing, potato dumplings, and red cabbage. 

Christmas dessert is usually Dresdner Stollen– a fruit cake type dessert that has tapered ends to resemble the baby Jesus’ swaddling clothes. 

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Other German Christmas foods include

  • Lebkucken (gingerbread)
  • Chocolate Santas
  • Spritzgebäck (Spritz cookies)
  • Plätzchen
  • Vanillekipferl

ST. NICHOLAS DAY (SANKT NIKOLAS TAG)

December 5th is a very exciting night in Germany. Children place a clean and polished pair of shoes by their bedroom door or front door. During the night, Sankt Nikolaus visits and leaves small gifts in their shoes such as small toy, chocolates, oranges, gold coins, or a bag of gummy bears. 

Knecht Ruprecht comes with Sankt Nikolaus. If children are naughty, Knecht Ruprecht leaves coal in their shoes. 

Sankt Nikolaus dresses similarly to the American Santa, but he does not come in a sleigh or down the chimney. 

Related: How To Celebrate St. Nicholas Day The Easy Way 

st-nicholas-day-gifts

CHRISTMAS PICKLE TRADITION

Many people claim that the “Christmas Pickle” is a German tradition, however, that is most likely a myth! Most Germans have not ever heard of the pickle ornament tradition. The tradition was most likely started when famous glass ornaments were imported to the USA by the Woolworth stores in the 1880s. Some of the ornaments were in the shapes of fruit and vegetables. Perhaps this “legend” was made up to sell the pickle ornaments that nobody wanted to buy. 

The pickle ornament is the last to be hung on the Christmas tree. The child who finds the pickle first gets an extra present.  Even though this tradition is not a true German Christmas tradition, it can still be a lot of fun. 

CHRISTMAS TREES (TANNENBAUM)

Christmas trees are a very big part of Christmas in Germany. Unlike in America when Christmas trees are brought into the house at the beginning of December, Germans traditionally put the tree up on the morning of December 24th. Houses and gardens are decorated earlier in the season, but the tree doesn’t come out until the 24th. 

Germans also use mainly real freshly cut pine or fir trees that can be found at stores just a few days before Christmas. 

GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS (WEIHNACHTSMARKT)

Another big German Christmas tradition is Christmas markets. Most major cities and even small towns set up shops and stalls in the main square and stay open until Christmas Eve. Markets are well known for their food, gifts, and decorations. 

Christmas in Germany wouldn’t be the same without favorite holiday foods that can be found at a Christmas market. Popular foods like almonds, Lebkucken (gingerbread hearts), Christmas stollen and other goodies.  

german-christmas-traditions

GERMAN CHRISTMAS SONGS

  • O Tannenbaum 
  • Stille Nacht

HOW TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS IN GERMAN

“Frohe Weihnachten” pronounced (frow-a Vinaktin) is how Germans say Merry Christmas to each other. 

GIFT EXCHANGE

Christmas Eve is the big day when Germans exchange gifts with each other. 

 


And that is how Christmas is celebrated in Germany! 

This post is part of our Christmas Around The World series

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