Contrary to popular belief, Germans are extremely fond of celebrating and they do it in style. Christmas is no exception and people make merry while it lasts. To keep up with the revelry, it is a good idea to have an advent calendar to count the days. Compared to many other countries, the festivities start nearly a month early! On the eve of December 6, St. Nicholas makes his rounds carrying a list of all the children.
Legend has it that he leaves gifts for the kids who've been good and coal for the not-so-good one's.
The Christkind ("Christ Child") is the traditional Christmas gift bringer in Germany.
He is believed to be dressed in white flowy robes with a golden crown on his head. Children leave their letters for Christkind on their windowsills and he in turn distributes gifts to them. He is an incredibly kind figure and each year children wait eagerly to receive their gifts from him.
It is believed that the Christkind send his messenger, Weihnachtsmann who incidentally resembles Santa Claus , to distribute gifts amongst the children.
Tanenbaum or the Christmas tree is said to have originated in Germany and to this day the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees can be spotted in this wonderful country. The Christmas carol, O Tanenbaum captures the spirit of the holiday well and can be heard through out Deutschland during Christmas.
One Christmas tradition unique to Germany is Gingerbread. Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies.
Christbaumgeback is a very popular white dough German pastry which is used as a Christmas Tree decoration of choice. Gingerbread figures are another great tradition from Deutschland!
Hansel and Gretel is perhaps what comes to your mind upon mention of Gingerbread, ah, Hans Christen Anderson!
In Germany, the Christmas celebrations are concentrated on Christmas Eve; December 24 th and are rather subdued. Shops are open pretty much all day till afternoon that is when celebration officially begins after the ringing of the bell. At that point they will either find their presents under the tree or Weihnachtsmann himself will pay a visit.
First the presents are unwrapped and Dinner is served only after that. It is also common practice to attend the Christmas Mass that night. The next two days are national holidays during which people prefer to spend time with their friends and family.
In Germany, parents wake their children at mid night on Christmas Eve and take them to a room that has been locked for the last couple of days. Once the door opens, what the children see is a bright Christmas tree, all lit up with loads of presents around it
St. Nikolaus Day
On the day of Nikolaus (January 6 th ), it is tradition for children to clean a pair of shoes and leave them outside their bedroom door. If the shoes are found full of sweets and candy, it means that the kid has behaved himself the previous year.
The Nikolaus Day has a decided advantage: it is the perfect excuse to start indulging in the variety of Lebkuchen (spice cakes) and German Christmas cookies.