Christmas traditions & customs
Christmas preparations often begin before December 1st.
Many Germans set aside special evenings for baking
spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and
decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional
Children leave letters on their windowsills for
Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a
golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the
letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar
to make them sparkle.
Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies.
The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a
white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for
On December 6 is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day. A shoe or
boot is left outside the door on Dec.5 with hopes the
following morning you find presents, if you were good -
or, unfortunately a rod if you had been bad.
In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ
Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as
an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The
angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas
Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he
looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.
It is the Christkind who brings the presents,
accompanied by one of its many devilish companions,
Knecht Rupprecht, Pelznickle, Ru-Klas, or one of the
other monstrous playmates created by this nation, which
is known for its fairy tales.
Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and
in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering
In Germany they lay out advent wreaths of Holly with
four red candles in the center. They light one candle
each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count
the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They
open one window each day and find a Christmas picture
In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl
who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful
fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who
visits each house with a basket of presents.
In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On
Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at
midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked
room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit
up, with piles of parcels on little tables.
In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round
the village, singing carols.
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