Christmas Around the World
Reagan Library Christmas Tree Exhibit


Christmas Traditions


A big part of the Christmas celebrations in Germany is Advent. Christmas trees were first used in Germany during the late Middle Ages. Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families. Christmas Day is called Erster Feiertag (first celebration) and the 26th December is known as Zweiter Feiertag (second celebration) and also Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag.

Posted Friday December 8th 2023


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German Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree

In GermanFrohe Weihnachten

German Christmas Tree Top

German Christmas Ornaments

Cresent Moon Santa

German Christmas Ornaments

Customs of Germany Christmas Ornament
Customs of Germany
Celebrations begin before December 6 with pageants and fairs featuring cookies, breads, sausages, decorations and toys. Many observe Christ's coming by lighting candles on an Advent wreath or opening Advent calendar windows. Decorating the Tannenbaum originated in Germany. On Heiligabend (Christmas Eve) families enjoy decorating the tree with white candles and ornaments of wood, foil, and glass. A Krippe (nativity set) is placed under the tree. Children receive gifts from the Christkind (Christ Child). The season ends with Epiphany, when the Sternsänger carol and roam the streets with star-shaped lanterns symbolizing the Wise Men from the East.

Customs of Germany Christmas Ornament

German Christmas Ornaments

German Christmas Ornaments

German Nutcracker Christmas Ornaments

Beer Stein Christmas Ornament


The observance of what is commonly known in English as Christmas in the German-speaking countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is also widespread in countries with a German-speaking minority, such as Transylvania in Romania, South Tyrol in Italy, Eupen in Belgium, and various diasporas such as the German Brazilian and German American communities. Traditions of Weihnachten influenced Advent and Christmastide culture throughout the world.

In preparation for Weihnachten, many families celebrate Advent. This is a time of religious preparation for the arrival of das Christkind (the Christ Child). Traditional advent activities include the Adventskranz (Advent wreath), which is set up on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, the beginning of the Advent season. Four candles adorn the wreath, and a new one is lit each Sunday. Families often sing Christmas carols as they gather around the wreath to celebrate the preparation and Christmas season.

Children also enjoy the advent calendar, which contains 24 doors, one for each day of December leading up to Christmas. Children open one door each day, and find a chocolate treat awaiting them. Many calendars also include pictures inside the doors, often Christmas-related.

A significant part of the Christmas build-up occurs on 6 December, when it is Nikolaustag, the day commemorating Saint Nicholas. On the evening of 5 December, children in Germany place a Nikolausstiefel (a boot or a shoe) in front of the street door. Overnight, the Nikolaus, a figure similar in appearance to Santa Claus or Father Christmas, visits the house and fills the boots with sweets and sometimes even smaller presents if the children were good; otherwise they are left with only a rute (a cane composed of birch twigs).

During the Christmas period, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) becomes a feature of almost every city, town, or village in the German-speaking countries, where visitors enjoy stalls, entertainment, and savour food and Gluhwein (mulled wine). Traditional Christmastime treats include Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Stollen (fruit cake), Speculaas and marzipan (almond confectionery often made into sweets). Perhaps the most famed of these markets is the Christkindlesmarkt held in Nuremberg, which attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas Tree) is usually put up in the afternoon of 24 December. The trees can be bought at special traders' sites, but some families may still go into the forest and cut one themselves.

Traditionally, on Heiligabend (Christmas Eve) in Germany, a simple meal will be prepared and served before or after the Bescherung ("time for exchanging gifts"), in contrast to the big meal on Christmas Day. Various polls repeatedly declare (Eintopf) or sausages (Wurstchen) with potato salad to be Germany's favorite meal on Heiligabend. Further typical meals may include carp, fondue or raclette. On Christmas Day, the most common dishes are roast goose or duck.

Many families begin the celebration on Heiligabend (literally, Holy Evening, or Christmas Eve) in the afternoon or evening. Although there are two legal holidays in Germany, , most cantons of Switzerland and Liechtenstein for Christmas, Christmas Eve is not one of them, and in Switzerland, many companies and stores are open for a half-day in the morning until 4 p.m, after which celebrations begin.

Many go to church before the celebration begins. Christmas masses/services often last around one hour. Families with children go to a children's mass which is usually shorter and dramatised with a Krippenspiel (nativity play).

The customs held upon returning from church leading to the gift-giving vary across the German-speaking countries. Commonly, the returning children wait to enter into their locked living room until a little bell rings. This bell marks the departure of the one who is delivering gifts. In the more Catholic regions-primarily South Germany and Switzerland-the gift bearer role belongs to the Christkind, while those in North Germany commonly consider it to be the Weihnachtsmann (Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus) who is exiting.

The children then enter to see the decorated Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree), with all the presents beneath wrapped in colorful paper that has been prepared by an adult while they were away at church. Adults may also share gifts while the children are opening theirs. For the Bescherung in Germany, the only light comes from the Christmas tree lights (traditionally real candles, though today generally replaced by electric lights). In Switzerland, this is done after the big meal in the evening.

An alternative tradition in many homes does not include a ringing bell or presents already lying beneath the tree when children return from church. Instead (although not in the southern region) the Weihnachtsmann, usually played by a relative, appears in person, knocking at the door while the family sits together. Once he is let in, he puts his sack and rute (shepherd's crook) aside and greets the family. He then asks the child or children to perform by singing a Christmas song or reciting a poem and then asks them if they were naughty or nice. Most children admit that they have not always been nice, so the Weihnachtsmann wants the promise that they do better next year before giving all their presents. He then retreats and the family spends the rest of the evening together, enjoying their gifts and company.

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WIKIPEDIAThe Federal Republic of Germany
A country in the western region of Central Europe. It is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. Its 16 constituent states are bordered by Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. The nation's capital and most populous city is Berlin and its main financial center is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.

Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. In 962, the Kingdom of Germany formed the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the center of the Protestant Reformation. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the German Confederation was formed in 1815.

Formal unification of Germany into the modern nation-state was commenced on 18 August 1866 with the North German Confederation Treaty establishing the Prussia-led North German Confederation later transformed in 1871 into the German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was in turn transformed into the semi-presidential Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship, World War II, and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, in 1949, Germany as a whole was organized into two separate polities with limited sovereignty: the Federal Republic of Germany, generally known as West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, known as East Germany, while Berlin continued its de jure Four Power status. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community and the European Union, while the German Democratic Republic was a communist Eastern Bloc state and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the fall of communist led-government in East Germany, German reunification saw the former East German states join the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990.

Germany has been described as a great power with a strong economy; it has the largest economy in Europe, the world's third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global power in industrial, scientific and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer. As a developed country it offers social security, a universal health care system and a tuition-free university education. Germany is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, Council of Europe, G7, G20, and OECD. It has the third-greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Germany has 16 states

  • Germany is a federation and comprises sixteen constituent states which are collectively referred to as Lander. Each state (Land) has its own constitution, and is largely autonomous in regard to its internal organisation. As of 2017 Germany is divided into 401 districts (Kreise) at a municipal level; these consist of 294 rural districts and 107 urban districts.
  • More than 400 zoos and animal parks operate in Germany. The Berlin Zoo, which opened in 1844, is the oldest in Germany, and claims the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.
  • Germany's military, the Bundeswehr (Federal Defence), is organised into the Heer (Army and special forces KSK), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Zentraler Sanitatsdienst der Bundeswehr (Joint Medical Service), Streitkraftebasis (Joint Support Service) and Cyber-und Informationsraum (Cyber and Information Domain Service) branches. In absolute terms, German military expenditure is the eighth-highest in the world.
  • It is the world's third-largest exporter and third-largest importer, and has the largest economy in Europe, which is also the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the fifth-largest by PPP.
  • Being home to the modern car, the automotive industry in Germany is regarded as one of the most competitive and innovative in the world, and is the sixth-largest by production as of 2021. Germany is home to Volkswagen Group, the world's second-largest automotive manufacturer in 2022 by both vehicle production and sales, and is the third-largest exporter of cars as of 2023.
  • With its central position in Europe, Germany is a transport hub for the continent. Its road network is among the densest in Europe. The motorway (Autobahn) is widely known for having no general federally mandated speed limit for some classes of vehicles. The Intercity Express or ICE train network serves major German cities as well as destinations in neighboring countries with speeds up to 300 km/h (190 mph). The largest German airports are Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport. The Port of Hamburg is one of the twenty largest container ports in the world.
  • In 2019, Germany was the world's seventh-largest consumer of energy. All nuclear power plants were phased out in 2023.
  • Germany is the ninth-most visited country in the world as of 2017, with 37.4 million visits. Germany's most visited and popular landmarks include Cologne Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Dresden Frauenkirche, Neuschwanstein Castle, Heidelberg Castle, the Wartburg, and Sanssouci Palace. The Europa-Park near Freiburg is Europe's second-most popular theme park resort.
  • Germany is the most populous country in the European Union, the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the nineteenth-most populous country in the world, with a population of 80.2 million according to the 2011 German Census, rising to 83.7 million as of 2022. Germany has the third oldest population in the world, with an average age of 47.4 years. The fertility rate of 1.57 children born per woman (2022 estimates) is below the replacement rate of 2.1 and is one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.
  • Four sizeable groups of people are referred to as national minorities because their ancestors have lived in their respective regions for centuries: There is a Danish minority in the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein; the Sorbs, a Slavic population, are in the Lusatia region of Saxony and Brandenburg; the Roma and Sinti live throughout the country; and the Frisians are concentrated in Schleswig-Holstein's western coast and in the north-western part of Lower Saxony.
  • After the United States, Germany is the second-most popular immigration destination in the world. Refugee crises have resulted in substantial population increases. As of 2019, Germany ranks seventh among EU countries in terms of the percentage of migrants in the country's population, at 13.1%.
  • Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with 66.8% of respondents identifying as Christian according to the 2011 census.
  • German is the official and predominant spoken language in Germany.
  • Most of the German universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. Germany is the world's third leading destination for international study. The established universities in Germany include some of the oldest in the world, with Heidelberg University (established in 1386), Leipzig University (established in 1409) and the University of Rostock (established in 1419) being the oldest. The Humboldt University of Berlin, founded in 1810 by the liberal educational reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt, became the academic model for many Western universities.
  • Germany's system of hospitals, called Krankenhauser, dates from medieval times, and today, Germany has the world's oldest universal health care system, dating from Bismarck's social legislation of the 1880s. Germany ranked 21st in the world in 2019 in life expectancy.
  • Germany is well known for such folk festival traditions as the Oktoberfest and Christmas customs, which include Advent wreaths, Christmas pageants, Christmas trees, Stollen cakes, and other practices.
  • German classical music includes works by some of the world's most well-known composers. Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel were influential composers of the Baroque period. Ludwig van Beethoven was a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras.
  • The national alcoholic drink is beer. German beer consumption per person stands at 29 US gallons in 2013 and remains among the highest in the world. German beer purity regulations date back to the 16th century. Wine has become popular in many parts of the country, especially close to German wine regions. In 2019, Germany was the ninth-largest wine producer in the world.
  • Football is the most popular sport in Germany. With more than 7 million official members, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) is the largest single-sport organisation worldwide, and the German top league, the Bundesliga, attracts the second-highest average attendance of all professional sports leagues in the world.
  • Germany is one of the leading motor sports countries in the world. Constructors like BMW and Mercedes are prominent manufacturers in motor sport. Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race 19 times, and Audi 13 times (as of 2017).
  • German athletes historically have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count when combining East and West German medals prior to German reunification.

EtymologyThe English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. The German term Deutschland, originally diutisciu land (the German lands) is derived from deutsch (cf. Dutch), descended from Old High German diutisc 'of the people' (from diot or diota 'people'), originally used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants.

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