Christmas in Germany

Die Weihnachten in Deutschland

     German Christmas customs have had an important influence on those celebrated here in America. Over the centuries, Americans have adapted many German Christmas traditions. This may be due to the German heritage of many Americans and the fact that their customs are far older than ours.

     Some examples of the many Christmas songs we have borrowed from the Germans are

both of which were originally written in German. The tunes of many other German Christmas songs are familiar to Americans.

     We have also copied some, but not all parts, of their other traditions. In both countries we put up Christmas trees, we sing carols, and exchange gifts with our families and friends. The decorating of Christmas trees is also a German tradition. In Germany they put candles on their trees to light them instead of using electric lights. They also put wreaths with candles on their heads for Santa Lucia Eve and Day (December 12th/13th), which is a custom Americans do not generally observe.

     In Germany, many children receive Advent calendars, which begin on December 1st, and have surprises behind a door for each day up to the 25th. December 6th is Sankt Nikolaus Day, when a man dressed like Santa Claus reads from his book of good and bad deeds, and gives the good children candies. In Berchtesgaden, he is accompanied by several henchmen (known as Krampus), who are there to take care of the bad children (and beat anyone they like with switches). They wear large furry costumes, with cowbells to warn of their arrival. All across the country, children set out their shoes that night, and parents put candies and trinkets in them for the next morning.

    Celebrating the twelve days of Christmas comes from Germany, although celebrating Christmas over a twelve day period is uncommon in the United States. These twelve days of Christmas span from Christmas day to January 6th, Epiphany. Each day, everyone gives small gifts (lords-a-leapin', partridges in pear trees, etc.).

     Our celebration is similar, because we put out stockings on Christmas Eve for Santa to fill, and give gifts on Christmas. We also remember the Christmas season with Advent calenders. Fortunately or unfortunately, we do not derive any aerobic benefit from being chased by Krampus.

**Christmas links**

Christmas in Germany
Christmas in a bi-cultural home
A Bavarian Christmas
Yule Love It!
Excerpts from a Usenet German FAQ.
An article on the origins of the
Christmas tree.

Text by Katrin, Klaus, Otto. Page made by Matejko. Edited and re-edited by Mr. Thompson.
Did we remember to thank

Back to the main
German page.
Back to the main
Riverdale High School page.