The Germans may be famous for their beer and sausages, but they are still creative when Christmas comes. As early as the end of November, they enter the Christmas spirit, and the markets all over the country are flooded with people and tourists. But what makes Christmas in Germany special?
Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmärkte)
As in any other country, the Germans make sure they have the most amazing markets. In fact, they are also considered those who created them as the first Christmas markets date back to the Middle Ages and mainly to the German-speaking part of Europe. Some of the most impressive markets are in Trier, Leipzig, Nuremberg, and Dresden. Numerous activities for both children and adults, these markets will leave you with the best impressions.
And since we are talking about Christmas markets, it is not possible to visit them and not try the local delicacies.
This is a hot and aromatic red wine that is served in all markets. It is served in ceramic or glass decorated mugs which you can keep for a small fee if you wish. The Germans claim that those who drink this wine fight the winter cold while enhancing the festive spirit.
This is another, more intense drink that the Germans drink and is amazing both in taste and appearance. It consists of rum with a high alcohol content, added to the hot red wine resulting in an illuminating glass.
Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake that tastes great. It is a cake made of flour, with fruits (chopped, candied, or dried), nuts, and spices. Traditionally, it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, while many people garnish it with lemon or orange zest.
Lebkuchen is a German Christmas treat that I personally love. At first glance, one can say that they look like cookies; but they are not. They contain mainly honey, various spices, and nuts and can be: soft or hard, sweet or spicy, and with or without icing. Traditionally, it is considered to be a Christmas treat, but due to their demand, you can even find them at central train stations. Most of the time those cookies also have text messages.
Of course, Christmas decorations can not be missing from the markets.
- Christmas balls
And who does not decorate his/her tree with Christmas balls… In every Christmas market, you can find impressively painted glass, wooden, or plastic Christmas balls in all sizes and colors. Some of them are even edible!
Another distinctive ornament that exists in every market is the Rheruchermann (in English: smoker), and the name derives from its design. It is a wooden doll that depicts a man smoking and dates back to the time of the miners. Now, this particular ornament can be found in various forms that represent hobbies and professions.
It is a decorative candleholder that has places for 11 candles, and it is associated with the mining activity that took place in Germany in the past. It is rumored that on Christmas Eve, miners and their superiors used the candlestick as a source of light at a joint dinner. It displays symbols that are usually associated with the life and desires of the miners.
- Christmas Angels
Christmas angels are the most popular Christmas decorations in Germany. They are placed on Christmas trees and throughout the house during the Christmas period. Christmas angels are usually made of wood and are often seen playing their musical instruments.
- Christmas pyramids
The Christmas pyramids are decorative, dating back to the miners’ era. They are decorated with birth scenes and other Christmas figures, such as angels and sages, as well as secular motifs.
Another thing that makes German Christmas special is their customs.
- Advent wreath
The tradition of Advent wreaths began with the Germans in the 16th century; today the wreath is still an image of Christmas in Germany. The wreath consists of four candles surrounded by pine cones, berries, dried flowers, and Christmas decorations. Some will take it out during the first week of December and burn a candle every Sunday before Christmas. Others will reveal the wreath on the last Sunday before Christmas and have the whole family sitting around, eating Christmas treats, singing Christmas carols, and watching Christmas movies.
This is the well-known calendar with the 24 squares-boxes that contain chocolates or gifts, to give pleasure to young children or even adults until Christmas. Advent calendars can be found in many stores throughout Germany during this period, while many parents prefer to make their own.
- Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas Day)
According to tradition, St. Nikolaos visits the families in Germany on the evening of December 5th (the eve of his holiday). If the children behaved well all year, they would get presents and sweets, while if they were naughty they would get ashes from the fireplace in their shoes. Before going to sleep, the children leave their shoes outside the door and the next morning they run anxiously to see what Saint Nicholas brought to them.
Undoubtedly, Christmas in Germany is a special experience worth living! Whether you are traveling alone, with friends or family, you will definitely find something for all tastes.