Christmas Quick Facts - DE

AKA Name1. Weihnachtsfeiertag
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2023 Date25 December 2023
2024 Date25 December 2024


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Christmas is a key religious and cultural holiday globally, commemorated by millions to celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ. The observance, typically marked by an amalgamation of religious and secular practices, manifests differently across cultures. Fundamental to the celebration is the exchange of gifts, communal feasting, and elaborately depicted nativity scenes. Equally critical are the harmonious Christmas carols and a generally heightened sense of community, love, and togetherness. The immaculate decoration of homes and public spaces, often using evergreen shrubs, marks the advent season, creating a vibrant, festive aura.

The practice of celebrating Christmas in Germany dates back to the early Middle Ages, albeit the form of celebration has evolved significantly. One of the German-specific aspects of Christmas is the Advent calendar. This valued tradition starts on December 1st, as players open a new small door each day revealing sweets or toys, ending on the Christmas Eve. The legendary Christkind, an angel-like figure who brings gifts to children, is uniquely German. Furthermore, Germany's Christmas markets, with their warming Glühwein, delicious local delicacies, and ornamental handicrafts, are deeply linked with the country's festive traditions and are eagerly anticipated each year.

In Germany, the Christmas season begins on the first Advent Sunday, usually towards the end of November or the beginning of December. The celebrations stretch till the 6th of January, marking the Epiphany. German households typically erect and decorate their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Customs include attending the Midnight Mass and a hearty meal. Different regions in Germany have specific practices and dishes associated with their Christmas celebration. For instance, northern Germany savours customarily fish, while the south usually serve sausages with potato salad. Enduring, historical practices coupled with contemporary traditions, render Germany's observation of Christmas as unique and distinctive.

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Christmas facts

  • During the 4th Century A.D., Bishop Nicolas of Smyrna was known to be very generous to the poor, especially to children. He was later given the title of Saint Nicholas and is patron saint of children.
  • Constantine the Great named the holiday and set the date for Jesus' birth as being December 25th. This happened in 325 A.D.
  • The Christmas tree is a custom that is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century. Candles and decorations that are lit represented the light of Christ in the world.
  • Germans popularized the tradition of the Christmas tree or Tannenbaum in the 16th century, based on the medieval Paradise Trees used to celebrate the Feast of Adam and Eve. Martin Luther is often credited with adding candles to the tree to symbolize the stars in the sky.
  • Traditional German Christmas foods include Lebkuchen (a type of gingerbread), Stollen (a fruit bread with powdered sugar), roasted goose or duck, and Glühwein (a warm, mulled wine).

Top things to do in Germany for Christmas

  • Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church. Many churches offer midnight mass. Alternately, watch the Pope's annual Christmas eve service broadcast live from the Vatican.
  • Many churches hold pageants for children that involve playing the parts of the nativity scene. Go to one of these events or put up a nativity scene in your home.
  • Exchange gifts with family and friends. Germans often place gifts under the Christmas tree, and an older tradition involves the "Christkind" (Christ Child) secretly delivering gifts.
  • Gather around the Christmas tree or the Advent wreath to sing traditional German Christmas carols, known as Weihnachtslieder.

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