Embracing Tradition: Celebrating Christmas in Germany

Christmas in Germany is a time of enchantment and nostalgia, where centuries-old traditions blend harmoniously with modern festivities. From ornate decorations to festive markets and cherished customs, German Christmas celebrations are steeped in history and cherished by both young and old. In this article, we delve into the unique traditions and customs that make Christmas in Germany a truly magical experience.

1. Advent: The Countdown to Christmas

The preparations for Christmas in Germany begin on the first Sunday of Advent, signaling the start of the festive season. Families eagerly light the first candle on their Advent wreath and begin opening the first door of their Advent calendar. The upcoming weeks are filled with joyful anticipation as each Sunday brings the lighting of an additional candle, marking the progression towards Christmas.

2. Festive Markets: A Feast for the Senses

Christmas markets, known as Weihnachtsmärkte, are an integral part of the German holiday experience. These enchanting markets spring to life in town squares and city centers, offering a magical ambiance filled with twinkling lights, wooden stalls, and the aroma of gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, and mulled wine. Visitors immerse themselves in the festive spirit as they peruse handcrafted ornaments, indulge in seasonal delicacies, and enjoy traditional music and carol singing.

3. St. Nicholas Day and Advent Calendars

On the evening of December 5th, German children eagerly await the arrival of St. Nicholas, or Nikolaus. They clean their shoes and leave them outside their door, hoping to awaken to small gifts and sweets left by St. Nicholas. Additionally, Advent calendars play a significant role in German Christmas traditions. These calendars, often adorned with festive scenes, have numbered doors that children open each day in December, revealing a small surprise or treat.

4. Christmas Eve: The Main Celebration

In Germany, the pinnacle of Christmas festivities is Christmas Eve, known as Heiligabend. Families gather for a festive meal, which traditionally features dishes such as roasted goose, carp, potato dumplings, and red cabbage. Afterward, they exchange gifts around the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, accompanied by caroling and readings of the Nativity story. Christmas Eve is a time for intimate family celebrations, reflection, and cherishing the gift of togetherness.

5. Christmas Day and Beyond

In Germany, Christmas Day and the following days are a time for relaxation and continued celebration. Families attend church services, enjoy leisurely meals, and partake in outdoor activities like ice-skating or winter walks. Another cherished tradition is the performance of Christmas plays or puppet shows, recounting the story of Christ’s birth. Additionally, seasonal treats like marzipan, stollen (fruitcake), and cookies called Plätzchen are savored throughout the holiday season.


Christmas in Germany is a time infused with warmth, tradition, and cherished customs. From the anticipation of Advent to the magical allure of Christmas markets and the joyous celebrations of Christmas Eve, Germans find solace and delight in their age-old traditions. Whether it’s St. Nicholas Day or the time spent with loved ones around the Christmas tree, the essence of Christmas in Germany lies in fostering togetherness, spreading joy, and honoring the values that make this season truly special. As we embrace the holiday spirit, may we all find inspiration in the rich traditions of Germany and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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