Christmas Around The World – Germany
Having stopped off to look at how Georgia celebrates Christmas, we head 3252km North East to Germany to check out their Christmas celebrations.
With a population of around 81 million people, and only the seventh largest country in Europe, Germany is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
It has had many different capital cities including, Berlin, Aachen, Weimar, Bonn, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Nuremberg.
Let’s take a look at how the Germans celebrate Christmas
Advent – 25th December (Epiphany 06th January)
Christianity is the most dominant religion in Germany, with around 24 million people registered as Catholic, and around 22 million people registered as Protestant (which has its influences in Lutheranism).
Advent calendars and candles can be found in most homes at Christmas, both are typical cardboard ones, and the ones made out of a wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes (or bags) hung from it with small presents inside.
Advent candles are also popular.
In some parts of Germany, families gather during the evenings to read the Bible and sing carols like ‘O Tannenbaum‘ (O Christmas Tree) and ‘Still Nacht‘ (Silent Night).
Families exchange presents on Christmas Eve.
Christmas markets are very popular in Germany where many people will go to buy Christmas food, Christmas decorations and Christmas presents.
Children write letters to ‘Das Christkind‘ (The Christ Child) who they ask for presents. They glue sugar to the envelopes to make them sparkly and then leave them on the windowsill at the beginning of Advent.
The Christkind isn’t actually a baby, but is instead described as a young girl with ‘Christ-like qualities’.
In Nuremberg, a young girl is chosen every year to be the Christkind in a parade, and will have over 150 duties before Christmas such as visiting hospitals, nursing homes and children’s nurseries, as well as doing TV interviews.
She’ll wear a long white and gold dress, a gold crown, have long blonde curly hair, and sometimes wears angel wings.
There are debates whether Christmas presents are delivered by ‘Der Weihnachtsmann‘ (Santa Claus) or Christkind on the 24th December.
‘Der Nikolaus‘ may bring small gifts, like sweets and chocolates, on the 06th December (St Nicholas’ Day). He’ll leave the gifts in children’s shoes which are usually placed by the door.
He might also ask the children to perform a song or a story for him.
In some regions he is accompanied by Krampus, and in other regions he is accompanied by ‘Schwarzer Peter‘ (Black Peter) who carries a small whip.
Secret presents are often exchanged at work and school, where small presents are thrown into a room through a crack in the door, and then passed around until the right person has the correct present.
‘Sternsinger‘ (star singers) are usually four children – three dressed as wise men and one carrying a star – who go house to house between December 27th – January 06th singing carols and collecting charity donations.
They write a special sign on the house door in chalk once they’re done which are the letters CMB in the middle of the year – so 2020 would be 20*C*M*B*20.
There are two meanings to the letters, they are the initials of the traditional names of the three wise men – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing ‘Christus Mansionem Benedicat‘ meaning “May Christ bless this house“.
The sign is supposed to fade by itself by the Epiphany on the 06th January.
The main Christmas dishes are usually carp, goose, rabbit, duck or a roast, with apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage and potato dumplings as popular side dishes.
‘Stollen‘ (fruit yeast bread) is very popular.
Glühwein (hot mulled red wine with a shot of brandy) and Feuerzangenbowle (hot mulled wine with a high alcohol-percentage rum, made on open flames) are extremely popular Christmas drinks (and if you’ve been to a traditional Christmas market you are likely to have been able to smell & taste these wonderful drinks).
Lubkuchen (Gingerbread), chocolate Santas, and Plätzchen (Christmas cookies) are common sweets that are either bought or home made.
Our next journey takes us back to Africa, to see how Ghana celebrates Christmas.