Christmas in Germany

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In Germany Christmas is the most important and most popular holiday. The event itself and the time leading up to it are all about friends and family, however they are becoming more commercialised than ever before (although very far behind the United states).

Their advent wreaths are made up of four candles, a candle being lit the last four Sundays before Christmas, the first determinating the start of advent. From this time onwards the festivities begin, the city streets are lit, nativity scenes set up, nutcracker figures appear and gingerbread houses are built.
The advert calendar was invented in Germany (although is now in many more countries), usually made of cardboard with 24 small windows/flaps behind which were pictures and scenes, the calendars helped children to count down the days to Christmas.

Christmas markets pop up everywhere around this time, people visit to drink beer, mulled wine or apple cider, they listen to band music and are surrounded by holiday cheer. The stalls sell food including crepes, cookies, sweets, gingerbread hearts and sugar almonds, as well as toys and tree decorations. In Augsburg market there is a life size advent calendar. The Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is the most famous market in Germany and has been around for 375 years, with over 200 current vendors.

St Nicolas Day is held on December 6th, it’s a day where children line their newly cleaned shoes by their door in hope that St Nicolas with fill them with sweets, fruits and nuts symbolising them to have been a good child all year, or a switch which shows them to have been misbehaved.

In many regions of Germany ‘Christkindl’ is believed to bring the children presents on December 24th as opposed to good old Saint Nick. Others believe that it is Santa Claus (a direct descendent of Saint Nick) that slips in without being seen, to leave the well behaved children gifts, and punishment for the bad.

The Christmas tree is usually put up on Christmas Eve but many families now prefer to erect it sometimes in the advent season. It’s decorated with balls, tinsel and sweets, many people still prefer to use real candles instead of lights. Below the tree there’s usually a nativity set with the presents along side. The trees used to be pine but are now mostly spruce. Christmas Eve is not a full holiday, up until 2.00pm (sometimes earlier) some people still have to work, from 2.00 onwards all stores and business are closed for the holidays.

The evening dinner is very important usually consisting on carp and potato salad, after which presents are exchanged through families with the children being the central focus. They sing carols and read Christmas passages from the bible. Later that night most Germans (whether protestant or catholic) attend a mass at church, which used to be held at midnight but has recently has been moved to an earlier time.

Both the 25th and the 26th are also holidays, bussiness’ are still shut and everyone stays home. The meal on the 25th is different to the night before with rabbit, goose or a roast on the menu. The 26th is usually a much quieter day for contemplation.