Europe & Britain | Inspiration

Christmas in Germany: A guide to German Christmas traditions

Similar to many other countries, Christmas in Germany (Weihnachten) is considered one of the most important holidays. While the core ingredients of Christmas are the same around the world – festive cheer, time with family and loved ones, and lots of delicious food – there are some traditions that are unique to each country. Whether you’re on the hunt for some new traditions to adopt this holiday season, or are looking to spend Christmas somewhere new, these are some of our favourite German Christmas traditions we think you’ll love!

Sankt Nikolaus Tag/St Nicholas Day

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Known as the Feast of Saint Nicholas, this German Christmas tradition is actually observed in many European countries. Each year, on the night of the 5th December, children will clean and polish their boots, and leave them outside their doors before going to sleep. On the morning of the 6th, they’ll find their shoes filled with lollies and small gifts from St Nicholas.

GET INSPIRED: These are the best German Christmas markets you need to visit

Krampus Nacht/Krampus Night

For those children who may have been naughty throughout the year, a visit from Krampus might occur. Krampus the devil is considered to be St Nicholas’ evil sidekick. It’s believed that he accompanies St Nicholas to teach naughty children a hard lesson. In southern Bavaria, grown, muscular men will dress up in demonic costumes and bang on the doors of houses. When invited in by the expecting parents, the Krampus will frighten children into good behaviour.

Experience Christmas like never before on the Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland tour with Trafalgar.

Adventskranz/Advent wreath

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Advent wreaths, or adventskranz, is a German Christmas tradition that was first started in the 16th century by the German Lutherans. The wreath usually consists of four candles in a bed of pine cones, berries, dried flowers and festive ornaments. Most families will bring the wreath out at the beginning of December, and will light one candle every Sunday. However, other families will display their wreath on the last Sunday before Christmas.

Weinachtsmärkte/Chistmas markets

While Christmas markets are a popular festive activity all around the world, the origins of these markets can be traced back to German-speaking Europe in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, Christmas in Germany is celebrated with thousands of markets all over the country. We can’t think of anything much better than strolling around market stalls and enjoying a drink of glüwein with a pretzel to accompany.

Experience Germany’s enchanting Christmas markets on the German Christmas Markets tour with Trafalgar.

Glüwein/Mulled wine

An essential component to Christmas in Germany is a steaming hot mug of glüwein. At the Christmas markets, glüwein is sold in ceramic mugs and is considered a necessity for beating the cold winter chill and spreading Christmas cheer.

BE INSPIRED: 12 necessary items to pack when visiting Germany’s Christmas markets

Weihnachtsengel/Christmas angels

If you step into any home in Germany at Christmastime, you’ll notice a lot of weihnachtsengels, or Christmas Angels around the house. This German Christmas custom is one of the most popular traditions. The angels are usually placed on the Christmas tree, or on sideboards. In some families, angels are passed down through the generations and include special meanings, such as hope, joy and prosperity.

Feuerzangenbowle/Fire tong punch

A German Christmas tradition that is guaranteed to be a feast for both your eyes and your tastebuds is Feuerzangenbowle. It’s a potent German Christmas drink that mixes high level rum with mulled wine. Before being served, the drink is set alight.

See all the sights of Germany when you travel with Trafalgar on the Best of Germany tour.

Stollen

Perhaps one of the most well known German Christmas traditions is stollen. The traditional German Christmas food is a cake made of flour, with fruits, nuts and spices added to it. It’s also decorated with powdered sugar and occasionally a little bit of zest too.

Lebkuchen

If you’ve ever celebrated Christmas in Germany, you would’ve seen lebkuchen decorated everywhere. This German Christmas food is another festive treat that resembles gingerbread. These baked treats come in a variety of flavours, including honey, spiced and nuts, and often come with messages written on them.

BE INSPIRED: Christmas desserts from around the world

Did you enjoy this list of how to celebrate Christmas in Germany? Let us know in the comments! Or, head to our website for inspiration on how you can travel to Germany with Trafalgar.

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