Did you know that many of the Western Christmas traditions we celebrate come from Germany? If there’s one thing we know for sure, the Germans love the holiday season and have many traditions they still support. To learn about which traditions you enjoy that originated from here, check out these 7 German holiday traditions that are celebrated every year.
St. Nicholas Day
On the evening of December 5th, German children will clean and polish their boots and shoes to place them outside their door or by the fireplace right before they head to sleep. Why? To receive treats and gifts from St. Nicholas himself. On this special night, he goes from home to home carrying a book of sins. If the children have been good, he fills their shoes with delicious treats. If they’ve been bad, the children receive twigs.
St. Nicholas has a more sinister sidekick called Krampus. And on the same night of the Feast of St. Nicholas, Krampus takes to the streets. Instead of bringing gifts, Krampus’ job is to visit all the naughty children to teach them a lesson.
The Christmas Market
Few people know that the Christmas market started in Germany thousands of years ago. If you visit during the holidays, you’ll find thousands of Christmas Markets spread across the country. The most famous market in Germany is the Nuremberg Christmas Market, which can be traced back to the early 1600s.
Another universal favorite that originated in Germany is mulled wine. This renown beverage is sold in German Christmas Markets and is considered one of the best ways to keep out the winter chill during all of the celebrations.
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is also another German tradition that has become integrated worldwide. The tree tradition was started in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. On December 24th many people spend the afternoon and evening decorating the tree, along with attending Church and eating traditional dishes.
The German’s love eating Christmas dinner. Their traditional meal normally features duck, goose, rabbit or a roast. The main dish is often accompanied by delicious German delicacies and is followed by a dessert which often includes Christmas Stollen – pastries that resemble Christmas cake.
In many areas of Germany, the Christmas celebrations will continue right up until January 6th. This last day is called Das Dreikonigsfest which translates to the Three Kinds festival. On this night, children get dressed up as the three wise men and go visit homes to sing songs, similar to caroling. If the doors are opened, they collect donations that go towards various charitable causes. Many people also go to church on this day. During the church service, if there’s a crib display, the figurines that represent the ‘Magi’ are placed inside on this day.
If you love German holiday souvenirs and ornaments, visit us at the Frankenmuth Clock Company! We sell a wide variety of German goods as well as original German clocks.