Christmas in Germany

Many who travel to Germany do so during the warm months of summer, but there are special treats available for those who come during the off-season. Christmas in Germany is a magical time and there are all sorts of experiences you can have that summer tourists will miss.

Throughout the country, Christmas markets—sometimes known as Kris Kringle marts—begin opening during the last week of November. It doesn’t matter where you are; in villages, towns, and cities, there is almost always at least one Kris Kringle Mart. It’s in these markets that you can find some of the most authentic German goods, because they are all hand-made. Each of the stalls in a Kris Kringle Mart offers different things—from delicious baked goods, to toys, to fine leatherwork. By Christmas Eve, most markets will have closed down, and a few will close earlier.

The history and traditions of Christmas in Germany is quite interesting. The name we often use for Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, originally evolved out of the word Christkindl, or “Christ Child.” Additionally, we derive all manner of Christmas traditions from the German culture. The Adventskalender, those festive looking calendars featuring a 24 day count up to Christmas disguised as windows and doors, was originally created by the Germans. As one of the Christmas customs Germany, candles or chocolates will be placed inside the paper windows as treats for children prior to Christmas.

Music is central to Christmas in Germany as well and a few of our more popular holiday songs originate from Germany. The most famous of these is Silent Night, having been translated into 44 different languages.

And of course no German Christmas would be complete without a tree. The tradition of decorating the tree extends far back in German history and even includes a twist. Traditionally, the Christmas customs Germany dictate that the tree is presented to those assembled prior to the Christmas meal. However, children are not allowed to see the tree before then. Often times, the children will be sent off to be occupied while the parents decorate it with lights, ornaments, and cookies. Presents are placed beneath the boughs of the tree and when the time is right, the children are brought back in the room to sing carols and open gifts. The secrecy of some of the Christmas customs Germany greatly enhances the holiday for both the children and the adults. As a result, there’s little reason to wonder why Christmas is such a prominent holiday.

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