Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen#16- 13 German "Weihnachten" (Christmas) Traditions

My
husband and I are Canadian, and this year we will celebrate our first Christmas in Germany. Here are some ways we've found that the German Christmas traditions differ from what we are used to back in Canada.
  1. Nikolaustag - On the evening of December 5th, German children leave their shoes or boots outside the front door. That evening, St. Nikolaus, visits and fills them with chocolates, oranges and nuts if they’ve been good. His servant, Knecht Ruprecht, leaves bundles of twigs in the shoes if the children have been naughty and are listed in his ‘black book’. On December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, children discover what they've received in their boots.

  2. Christmas Markets - Nearly every town in Germany has their own Christkindlmarkt, which is a market-fest, where people gather to enjoy the Christmas time. These markets offer baked goods, sweets and toys and feature local and regional specialties. Larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Nuremberg have large markets, and attract many tourists, both local and foreign. They open before the first Sunday of Advent, and usually continue until December 24th at 12 noon. You can check out a live webcam of the Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz here in Munich here.

  3. Glühwein - German hot mulled wine. Served at the Christmas markets. On long winter nights of the 18th- and 19th centuries, it was customary to share a few glasses of the hot, spiced drink in the company of good friends. You can find a recipe for Glühwein, along with a non-alcoholic version for children, here.

  4. Weihnachtspyramide - The German Christmas pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide) was first developed in the Erzgebirge (Erz Mountains) in the German state of Saxony (Sachsen) as a low-cost substitute for a real Christmas tree in the late 1700s. A traditional pyramid is made of wood and may have two to five levels (Etagen). The heat from burning candles turns a windmill-like rotor at the top of the pyramid, making the pyramid revolve and ring its chimes.

  5. Advent Wreaths - My husband and I are Catholic, so we are accustomed to lighting the Advent Wreath at Mass during the Sundays throughout Advent (the month leading up to Christmas). In the Catholic tradition, in Canada, there are three purple candles, and one pink candle (which is lit on the third Sunday in Advent). In Germany, however, traditionally Germans have Advent wreaths in their homes, and the candles are typically red or gold.

  6. Christmas Dinner - A traditional German Christmas dinner consists of roast goose, potato dumplings, red cabbage, and baked apples for dessert. Recipes for this meal can be found here. Roasted pig and white sausages are also traditional foods for Christmas dinner. Other German Christmas foods include Christstollen, long loaves of bread with nuts, raisins, lemon and dried fruit; Lebkuchen, ginger spice bars/gingerbread; Marzipan and Stollen, a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit.

  7. Christmas Eve - Heiligabend, Christmas Eve is the most important time of the Germanic celebration. No waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney. The presents (from the Christkindl, Christ Child) are opened under the tree that night (an event known as die Bescherung). Christmas dinner usually comes after that. In religious families, attending midnight Christmas mass (Christmette) is also a part of the celebration. In Canada, we traditionally attend Mass on Christmas Eve, but the opening of the presents, and Christmas dinner, are usually held on Christmas Day.

  8. Krampus Run - The traditional "Krampus Run" recalls the Christian legend of bishop Saint Nicholas and his dark-faced companion, Krampus. Young men wearing deer horns, masks with red eyes, huge fangs, bushy coats of sheep's fur, and brandishing birchwood rods storm down the streets, confronting spectators. Anyone who doesn't dodge or run away fast enough might get swatted (although not hard) with the rod.

  9. Brides Tree - This is a Bavarian Christmas tradition. 12 ornaments are hung upon a tree to help bring good fortune to a newly married couple. The 12 ornaments symbolize the following: angel (God's guidance), bird (joy), fish (Christ's blessing), flower basket (good wishes), fruit basket (generosity), heart (true love), house (protection), pine cone (fruitfulness), rabbit (hope), rose (affection), Santa (goodwill), and teapot (hospitality).

  10. Epiphany - Heilige Drei Könige, January 6th is the day the three Magi came to visit the Christ Child. This is a holiday in Germany and it marks the end of the month and a half long Christmas celebration. As a Catholic, I am used to celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, however, it is not a holiday in Canada.

  11. Barbarazweig - In Catholic regions of Germany, such as Bavaria, the tradition of Barbarazweig begins on the feast day of die heilige Barbara. A small cherry branch or sprig is cut off and placed in water on December 4th, Barbaratag (St. Barbara's Day). Sometimes a twig from some other flowering plant or tree may be used: apple, forsythia, plum, lilac, or similar blossoms. The cherry branch (Kirschzweig) or other cutting is then placed in water and kept in a warm room. If all goes well, on Christmas day the sprig will display blossoms. If it blooms precisely on December 25th, this is regarded as a particularly good sign for the future.

  12. December 26th, der zweite Weihnachtstag - As in Canada, December 26th is a holiday. Whereas in Canada we celebrate Boxing Day on the 26th, in Germany, the 26th is a day reserved for visiting friends and family.

  13. Christmas Tree - The Tannenbaum or Christbaum originated in Germany. Although many Germans now decorated their Christmas trees with electric lights, many Germans still use candles to light their trees. Germans use special candle holders and have learned how to do this safely; the candles are not left to burn for a long time or without someone in the room.


65 comments:

...my 2 cents said...

A great list and very interesting traditions!! I really like #2!

mar said...

You did a wonderful job explaining all these traditions!!! I miss the Glühwein in the cold!! and the markets... Spanish children get their presents in the night of Jan 5th, when the 3 Kings arrive. Jan 6th is a national holiday.There are massive street parties on Jan 5th, waiting for the Kings to come, with large parades where the kids get candy.

Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Xmas to you and your husband and a happy New Year!
Happy TTs throughout 2007!

Anne said...

This is great! My best friend is German and every year she makes Christollen for all her friends. I love it! And the rest of Christmas Dinner sound yummy, too, but she can't get all the fixings here in Thailand so we just eat simple.... Have a great time in Germany. It is a wonderful, friendly place to visit.

Sweet Kitty said...

This is a very great list about our Traditions. Allthough some of them are typical Bavarian or South Germany.
In every part of Germany, we have different traditions. It really depends on where you're located.
But we all have one in common:
Glühwein!!!! =)

Hugs and Happy TT from Dortmund,
Sonny
Have a wonderful Christmas Time!

Sweet like Kitty

Laura said...

wonderful to learn of other traditions this time of year. thank you.
my tt is up

Lily said...

Thanks for sharing that! That is such wonderful and beautiful traditions. My ex-boyfriend was German, and now I wish we were still together after reading your TT. Too bad in Asia here Christmas is not such a big thing.

amy said...

I enjoyed reading those..thanks

Darla said...

We're going to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Michelstadt today LINK HERE. I'll definitely be having a Glühwein and getting my collector's mug. :)

twiga92 said...

It's really neat to read about other traditions. Thanks for sharing about these!

Maribeth said...

You did a great job with this list! I came from a German family and we observed so many of these traditions. Reading about then today made me think of my Papa and all of his wonderful family.

Di said...

I hope you have a Merry Christmas in Germany! Just think Santa will visit you, what is it?, 6 hours earlier than me on the east coast of the US!

Tink said...

Very interesting list! I recognize some Dutch traditions and I knew some German ones, but I'm always ready to learn more.
My Tt is about Yule.

Sanni said...

Caylynn - this is a wonderful TT! Thanks a lot for all the work you´ve done to put these German traditions together.

Fröhliche Weihnachten Euch allen
Sanni

Meow said...

Great list, thanks for sharing. I know most of these things ... my parents are German, and we still do many of the things they used to do when they lived there.
Take care, and Merry Christmas ... Meow

Terri said...

What an interesting list. I really enjoyed reading it. And you enjoy your first Christmas in Germany! Make lots of memories.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Neat traditions! Except for #8, that's just creepy.
It'd be cool to visit Germany over the holidays some year.

KarenW said...

St. Nicholas Day must be a European thing. They celebrate that in Romania too. Merry Christmas!

Karri said...

I love this list! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

N. Mallory said...

This sounds so much more special that what Christmas has become in America.

I love the TTs that are educational. Thanks!

Goofy Girl said...

Very interesting to read about, some of them I knew, others I did not. Thanks for sharing

Ali said...

wow! this is amazing! i didn't know about any of these!

JAM said...

Fantastic list! My younger daughter takes German in H.S. and her instructor is from Austria.

She's always coming home and telling us some of the things you've listed here. You can tell her teacher misses being in Austria this time of year.

Merry Christmas and God Bless you.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

What a great list! I love reading about how others celebrate Christmas. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by!
Joely

Gina said...

HI Caylynn! Simply wonderful list! It's really nice to learn new & interesting things such as the practices & traditions of different cultures. And I liked that one about the bride tree- I love miniature teapots (& collect them) , and teapot signifies hospitality! =)

Gabrielle said...

Christmas Market sounds fun! Thanks for stopping by :)

Carmen said...

it's so funny! When i was in school, I had to write a report about christmas in different countries, and I picked Germany!

Amy Ruttan said...

I actually blogged about the Krampus Runs when I stumbled across an article about it. It sounded so fascinating. I love to learn about traditions from other countries. It's funny because when I was in Disney World at Christmas they portrayed the Canadian Santa as a lumber jack, my Dad who grew up in Northern Ontario said that's how he remembers Santa being portrayed. Thanks for the great list. Mines up.

Anonymous said...

How exciting to be able to experience all the different traditions together :o)

Laquet

Karla said...

great list! I love finding out how other countries traditionally celebrate the holidays!

My T13 is my 100 things about me (coincided with T13 day)

Merry Christmas and blessings,
Karla

Annie said...

What a fantastic list! Thank you so much for sharing. I spent a year in Sweden and it was fascinating seeing just how differently the holiday is celebrated!

Happy TT and Merry Christmas!

Journeywoman said...

What lovely traditions!

Merry Christmas!

Christine said...

Very interesting traditions. The Gluhwein sounds wonderful, as does the Christmas dinner. Thanks for sharing the links.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Caylynn!

JO said...

interesting information... thanks for sharing..

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Ma said...

That as a great 13! It's nice learning other countries celebrations. Thanks for sharing.

I'm up too.

Becky said...

Great list. It is always fun to learn other traditions. Thanks for sharing. Happy TT & Merry Christmas!

Amanda said...

A Great list and very fascinating traditions. Happy TT and Merry Christmas!

Christine said...

This is a fantastic list. It must be very interesting to see how different countries celebrate at Christmas. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my site!

Sarah said...

Very interesting! I love hearing about the different traditions.

mistihollrah said...

This is a great list. My dad's side of the family is german & there are some great traditions that I would like to incorporate into my family traditions to honor our heritage. Thanks for sharing!

I just completed my first Thursday!
www.fourtybefore40.blogspot.com

K T Cat said...

What a fantastic list! The Krampus Run sounds like a really wild time. I'll bet it dates back to some pagan rituals.

Skeeeeezix the Cat said...

Grate list, and vary informutive!

Cindy said...

I'll bet Christmas in Germany will be beautiful! Hope yours is wonderful, Caylynn!

Lisa said...

It's very cool to see traditions of other countries! We're of Italian decent and we have some traditions we carried on from my grandparents. :)

Thanks for coming by Snarkypants! Happy Holidays and love and blessings in 2007!

Kukka-Maria said...

I loved learning about this stuff! I have to admit, too, that I pretending to sound German as I read the German phrases aloud.

I don't think anyone was fooled.

Happy TT and Merry Christmas!

Jane said...

Great post! I have some German heritage and this explains some of our traditions I guess! I would love to go to the Christmas markets!

beth said...

Germany would be the perfect place to celebrate Christmas! My future daughter-in-law is German and my son has lived in Germany the last year and a half (prior to being deployed to Iraq).

Merry Christmas!!

http://bluestarchronicles.com/2006/12/21/thursday-thirteen-7/

KAREN said...

thanks so much for sharing this. I am going to show my BF as he is german

The Artist said...

Calling over to wish you a wonderful Christmas, best wishes, The Artist

alisonwonderland said...

it's interesting to learn about traditions in other countries! my son's 2nd grade class did some of that in school this month.

happy TT and happy holidays!

Beth said...

Wow- what a great TT! I remember learning about some of those traditions in school. When I was little we opened gifts Christmas Morning, but now we open gifts Christmas Eve. Sad thing about getting older- the magic of Christmas morning is gone lol. Thanks for stopping by!

gem said...

Sehr gut! Froliche Weinachten.

Joan said...

fascinating and educational. What wonderful traditions!

Joy Renee said...

wonderful list. I love learning about exotic traditions. but then even American holiday traditions are exotic for me as I was raised in a household that did not celebrate holidays.

thanx for visiting my TT.
http://joystory.blogspot.com/2006/12/thursday-thirteen-12.html

Julie said...

Very informative T13! Thanks for sharing the traditions of Germany.
It's funny...my mom's family is German and the only tradition we follow is the tree, of course :)

DKRaymer said...

What a wonderful list of traditions! I hope you enjoy them all this year - what an adventure! I wish you and your family health and happiness this Christmas, too. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a very Merry (German) Christmas!
DK
P.S. I loved the Christmas Kittens, too!

Nadiah Alwi said...

What a great knowledge I get from your TT.

Thanks.

Jennie said...

What a cool list! I printed it out to share with my class (I teach 7th grade). Have a great week!

she said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I love learning about new (to me) cultures.

MarillaAnne said...

Thanks for all the great links.

This is my second week of Thursday 13. And it is very nice to meet you and your blog because of it.

I think I followed your link from Embracing Momminess.

ttyl,
pam

tiggerprr said...

Great list! I love to hear about other cultures! :)

Sunflower said...

look at your list!!!!
go visit and look at mine please:-)

:-)Sunflower

Jessie said...

Great list

Cheryl said...

This sounds like so much fun. Both my parents are from German lineage and I would really love to visit Germany during Christmastime. Merry Christmas!

Jake and Bathsheba said...

Dragonheart sent us your way. Nice traditions! Mom's father was German, but he was from northern Germany so Mom wasn't familiar with a lot of them. Of course, most of these traditions are handed down more from the mother, anyway. Still, mom knew about the desserts such as stollen, lebkuchen, and marzipan. Thinking about all this makes mom miss her dad since he died in 1997.

~J&B

scribbit said...

My daughter will love this, she's taking German and in love with the whole country.