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How Christmas is celebrated in Germany

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The Advent wreath

Germans get ready for the holidays early on, with Christmastime beginning on the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is always celebrated on Sundays. Sometimes, the first Sunday of Advent is in November. Traditionally, there is an Advent wreath, and for every week of Advent, a candle is lit until all four candles are burning. Corresponding to the first Sunday of Advent, the Christmas markets begin and are open daily until shortly before Christmas Eve.

24 doors until Christmas Eve

The Advent calendar is a nice tradition.  It is not only a must-have for children, but there is also a diverse array of Advent calendars for sale for adults. Advent calendars have 24 doors. The first door is opened on 1 December. The last door is opened on 24 December: Christmas Eve. There are not only chocolate Advent calendars available but also Advent calendars with cosmetics or snacks. If you enjoy being creative, you can make and fill an Advent calendar yourself.

St. Nicolas – an important day in the time before Christmas

St. Nicolas Day on 6 December is an important day before Christmas. On this day, children traditionally put their shoes outside the door or hang up a stocking the night before and discover treats or little presents in them in the morning. This custom goes back to A.D. 340. Back then, St. Nicolas gave away everything he owned to the poor and children. And his death day, 6 December, is the day he is remembered. By the way, only children who were nice and behaved get something from St. Nicolas. The others are threatened with a switch by his dark sidekick Servant Rupert.

Presents on Christmas Eve

As soon as the fourth candle is lit on the Advent wreath, it is not much longer until Christmas Eve on 24 December. This day is the highlight of Christmastime in Germany. On this day or sometimes a little before, the Christmas tree is put up and decorated. Many households also set up a nativity scene. Christmas dinner is prepared in the kitchen.

Christians in Germany often go to church on Christmas Eve for the Christmas Eve service. Families with children go in the afternoon. Seniors, singles or those without children like going to midnight mass. The church service is generally very festive.  

After going to church in the afternoon and before the big dinner, there is the exchange of presents in the early evening. It is not unusual for children to receive several presents. In some families, it is the Christ child who brings the presents. In others it is Santa Claus.  

Two more quiet days

The first and second days of Christmas (25 and 26 December) are holidays. A lot of people use these two holidays to get together with the whole family. There is coffee and cake or a dinner together. Often small gifts are exchanged, such as from the grandparents. The Christmas holidays are spent comfortably and harmoniously before the big sale starts in stores the next business day and the preparations for New Year’s Eve begin.

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