Christmas In Germany


Lara Rieger, staff writer

When you think of Christmas, you might think of decorations all over the town, Christmas stockings, and Christmas trees, but, have you ever wondered what Christmas in other countries is like?

In Germany, we don’t have a lot of the traditions that Americans have here, but we have other traditions instead. For most Germans, the Christmas season actually starts on the first of December because that’s when you get to open the first door of your advent calendar and unwrap your first little gift. Advent calendars are something that almost everybody has in Germany, no matter what age. It is like a countdown to Christmas. Every day you open a little door and get a small gift. Often that gift is only chocolate, but there are also plenty of other advent calendars. Some other gifts include make-up, legos, jewelry, or tea. There is the perfect advent calendar for everyone, and with this, you really start feeling the Christmas spirit.

On December 6, we celebrate Saint Nicholas day. Saint Nicholas was noted for his generosity. He sold all his possessions and gave money to the poor. On the night of December 5, children, and sometimes adults too, clean a pair of their shoes and put them outside in front of the door. During the night, Nicholas comes with his companion “Knecht Ruprecht.” If you were a “good” child throughout the year, Nicholas would put gifts in your boots, but if you were naughty, his companion would punish you and you wouldn’t receive any presents.

Another thing that is part of Christmas in Germany are Christmas markets. They usually consist of lots of small houses that sell different things, such as Christmas candy, decorations for your tree, perfumes, and the most popular Christmas drink in Germany, “Glühwein.” That is basically nothing other than hot wine, but for children they offer the same thing without alcohol.

Everybody that I know in Germany unwraps most of their gifts on December 24. We usually go to church in the evening, and when we come home, we unwrap our presents and have a big Christmas dinner. Some families also sing or do little performances like playing an instrument before they unwrap their gifts. Most people in Germany don’t have stockings, so all of our presents usually just lay under the tree. On December 25 and 26, it is very common to travel to other family members’ houses and celebrate with them and get some more gifts.

Something that both America and Germany have in common are Christmas trees, but even these trees are different. In Germany, I don’t know anybody who owns a plastic Christmas tree, but here, my host family uses one. That can also be pretty handy since you don’t have to clean up all of the pine needles that would fall down from a real tree.

What I love about Christmas time in America is that everything is decorated so nicely. When you drive through the town at night, there are lights everywhere and everything looks super pretty. In Germany, you won’t see that many decorations. Some people might put up some lights, but that’s about it. You won’t see any pop-up Santa Clauses or similar decorations.

So we might not have lots of pretty decorations and Christmas stockings in Germany, but there are other traditions instead. There are also a lot of things that both the United States and Germany have in common.