Germany is a diverse country and it really depends on the family, where they live and which version of Christianity they follow – if they follow one – how they celebrate Christmas. In this post, I will talk about the Christmas traditions I have experienced so far in Germany. It could happen that they are really different from your experiences. Let’s all delve in together and see what Christmas in Germany is all about.
Christmas in Germany is strictly a family affair. The Christmas season officially kicks off in Germany on the first Advent. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas eve which falls on the 24th of December. It is around this time that the Christmas Markets start to open in villages, towns and cities across the country and the first Christmas merchandise starts appearing in the supermarkets and stores as well. People also start putting up Christmas decorations in their homes and the first batch of Christmas cookies and goodies are baked. For children, there’s a special treat from the 1st of December onward.
An Adventskalendar (Advent Calendar) has 24 doors or drawers, each to be opened per day. Behind each door, or in each drawer, is a small surprise gift for the children. The Adventskalendar can either be bought or self made. Gifts can range from small toys to candy. An Adventskalendar can also be themed, there is an awesome Star Wars theme I have my eyes on for next year. Another Advent tradition is the Adventskranz which is a wreath on which four candles are placed. Each Advent Sunday a candle is lit.
On 6th December, Saint Nicholas’s (Sankt Nikolaus) Feast is celebrated. On the night before, children put out their boots. On the next morning they are “magically” filled with candies, nuts and fruits. This tradition is usually taken as an excuse to binge on candies. Throughout December, the most awesome Christmas sales are on in malls across the country.
This inevitably leads to hordes of shoppers thronging the malls and grabbing presents left, right and center. Turns out, the Germans love a good bargain like the rest of us and they aren’t afraid to show it. The hunt for the perfect Christmas tree also takes place in December and many Christmas Markets actually have a section devoted to Christmas trees as well. In my home, we go with a trusted plastic tree which looks realistic and is much less hassle and mess than a real one. But, I know people who cannot imagine Christmas without a real tree.
German Christmas takes place on 24th December not the 25th, like in the US and many other countries. The culmination of the Christmas season is the Christmas mass which is held on the evening of the 24th. It really depends on families and how religious they are on whether they attend mass. After mass, the family gathers for a big meal. For Catholic families, this meal usually constitutes of carp or any other type of fish. Starting from the 25th, people visit their family members and loved ones. This is actually really similar to the way Eid is celebrated in Pakistan. Presents are brought along by the families and food is served. The meals are usually heavy and consist of roasted goose or duck, the former being the more popular choice.
So there you are. This is how Germans celebrate Christmas. There are quite a few similarities with Eid in Pakistan, which I have noticed. This goes on to show us that people everywhere are just people and are the same no matter where you go.
Merry Christmas to you all.