Friday, December 7, 2012

German Christmas Traditions

In Germany there are three different types of Santa's who bring gifts. We have lived in Germany for 3.5 years now, and are becoming more familiar with local traditions. At Christmas time there are a few German traditions which are different from American Christmas traditions.

Christmas Markets  mark the beginning of the Christmas season. They are all over Germany. Large cities have markets open from the beginning of Advent in November until Christmas. Small villages have markets opened for a weekend between advent and Christmas. Most markets are good for eating, drinking gluwein, and purchasing crafty gifts.


Of the three santas, St. Nikolas is the first to arrive and visits children on December 5th. He dresses in red and white, rides on a white horse and looks much like a bishop. Children leave a boot or shoe outside the door and he fills it with nuts, clementines, oranges and chocolate Santas. If the children have been good of course.

Christkind (Christ Child) comes on December 24th to leave presents for children. He usually dresses in a white robe and looks similar to Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is better known as the Weinnachtsmann. He looks like the American Santa Claus. Most children believe in either Christkind or the Weinnachtsmann depending on their religion and region of Germany.

In my family and many other American families, we put up our Christmas tree soon after Thanksgiving. In Germany, gifts are exchanged and the Christmas tree is set up on December 24th. The tree remains until January 6th which is Three Kings Day.

Both countries offer warm traditions children will remember their whole life long.

I Can Teach My Child Photobucket TheBetterMom.com


13 comments:

  1. I am so glad you posted this. The other morning we found a basket of walnuts, clementines & chocolate Santas for each of my kids on our doorstep at 7 am. At first I thought it strange that our new neighbors would just leave a basket of goodies so early in the morning and not want to say hi. I get it now! What once was awkward in my eyes has now become a kind gesture. Thank you so much for the explanation.

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    1. That's funny. It would be strange to receive those things with no idea why.

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  2. I bet it is interesting to experience new traditions first hand in the Country. We lived in Germany when I was a baby until I was 5. My parents adopted some of these traditions with me and carried a few over...like the chocolate santa and an orange in my stocking, but didn't celebrate on Dec 6th.

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  3. Oh, the different Santas have been confusing me for years! My husband would travel to Germany and say it was Santa day and I would have heard about St. Nick day and get confused! It is so good to have this straightened out in my mind. We lived the Netherlands and there is basically one St. Nick who also visits on Dec. 5/6, but then the gifts seems to be over. They have the same timing of the Christmas tree, Dec. 24 through 3 Kings. So good to know!

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    1. They are confusing to me too. Maybe next year I will remember and won't have to re-read my own post.

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  4. I didn't know about the different santa very interesting

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  5. I appreciate this post because we are studying Germany next week and it is so close to Christmas!

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    1. That's good timing. We live in Germany and I have done lots of posts on Germany.

      http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.com/search/label/Germany

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  6. I´m german and I grew up with the Christkind.
    And I ever thought its a woman... :)

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  7. I think all those extra traditions are really neat! Do you know the 'why?' behind them all? Has it always been that way, or are those traditions mixed from different cultures within Germany or something? I hope your family enjoys your (partially) German Christmas!

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    1. Amy - I do think many traditions stem from cultures coming together. Germany was inhabited by Celtic people and then conquered for a short time by the Romans. After the Roman empire fell the Catholic religion still spread over Europe. The local people altered many of the traditions they had so they would work for both cultures.

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  8. This was fun reading, I enjoy German and Scandinavian Christmas traditions. I would love to celebrate St. Nick Day in early December, and those holiday markets sound like so much fun!

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