In Germany, the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas involve many traditions and customs.
- Stollen – a fruited yeast bread, Christmas cookies and gingerbread are often baked during this time.
- Wooden nutcracker figures, Christmas pyramids and lighted city streets and houses are signs that Christmas is on its way.
- Christmas markets are very famous in Germany and found in the centre of almost every town and village.
- Most markets open on the Friday before the first Sunday in Advent.
- Christmas markets offer warm drinks such as Glühwein, a hot spiced red wine, roasted almonds and local crafts.
- The Advent tradition is a celebration in preparation for the arrival of the Christ Child.
- Families set up an Advent wreath on the first Advent Sunday and lit a candle on each of the four Sundays.
- In the south east of Germany children write to the Christ Child and leave their letters on the windowsill, in other parts they write to the Santa Claus.
Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar, mostly filled with a small piece of chocolate each day. In Forchheim, a tiny city in Bavaria, the town hall fasade is turned into the most beautiful Advent calendar in the world. There is a Christmas market in front of the town hall and a Christmas angel appears to open a window every day at 6.30 pm.
- Christmas Eve is celebrated in Germany on the 24th of December. It is the last day of the Advent and start of the Christmas season.
- The custom of the Christmas tree developed in the 16th century in Germany.
- The Christmas tree will mostly be decorated in the morning of the Christmas Eve.
- After church service families open their Christmas gifts, that were placed under the Christmas tree and sing carols like ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’.
The first public Christmas tree was erected in 1815 by a bookseller in the city of Weimar because he wanted to cheer the poor children of town. That’s why there is a decorated Christmas tree on the market square of almost all cities and villages in Germany till today. Christmas is one of the major holidays in Germany. Of course there is no guarantee of snow on Christmas but it is always magical to experience a white Christmas!