Frohliche Weihnachten From Germany!


Germany is a country rich in Christmas traditions. For starters, it is said that the first Christmas tree, or Tannenbaum, originated in Germany, though there are many conflicting stories as to how, when and where. Another German-originated treat is the gingerbread house, made famous through stories like Hansel and Gretel. German families strictly follow the advent calendar, meaning they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Advent wreaths are the first signs of Christmas in Germany. The family displays them on the first Sunday in Advent, which is approximately four weeks before Christmas. Each Sunday, a red candle is placed on the wreath and by Christmas, there are four candles.

St. Nicholas normally appeared the night before December 6 as was the general custom, however, over the years, he has slowly been replaced with Father Christmas who tends to visit German children on the night of December 24, the classic Christmas Eve.

Decorating the Christmas tree is of primary importance in German households. At one time, the ornaments were handmade, but nowadays, many are made of glass. One particular ornament, known as the German pickle ornament, is very significant. The glass pickle is the last one to be hung on the tree and it is hidden among the rest. On Christmas Day, the child that finds the pickle ornament gets an extra gift as well as being the first to begin opening the presents.

Homemade presents are popular in Germany and a great deal of time is spent on them. Christmas Eve, or Heiligabend, is a magical time for German families. Right before the children are sent to bed, a bell rings just after dark and they are allowed to see the lighted tree with its gifts underneath. Christmas dinner consists of anything from roast goose with applesauce to duck and ham with potato dumplings.




Copyright 2003 Mary E. Bishop