Thursday, December 20, 2012

christmas in Germany

Hello to everyone reading my blog today and thank you for dropping by.

As a multi-cultural family, it isn't always easy keeping up the traditions you had as a child. Over the years, I have learned that I must step back a bit and allow my children to experience the culture they live in as well as try to keep my own traditions alive.

I would like to share with you how Christmas is celebrated in Germany for most Christian families. Christmas Eve, December 24th, is the most special day and counts as Christmas or "Heiligabend." This is the day when the immediate family celebrates. Most families will have a Christbaum that is either bought, recycled (plastic) or is cut down in the forest (with permission of course). Some families decorate the Christmas tree together, but most will be decorated by the parents on December 24, right before presents are opened. The size of a tree is generally smaller than in America. The cost ranges between 15€ and 60€. To prevent the children in the house from seeing the tree being decorated, the windows in the living room will usually be covered or the door will be locked. Decorations on the tree will usually be uniform and simple with handmade straw ornaments and uni-colored balls.
After the tree is decorated, the family goes to church in the evening and returns home to find presents under a decorated Christmas tree. This is usually prompted by a single ringing bell which signals that the Christkind (or Christ-Child, visually known as an angel) has come, has spontaneously decorated the tree and delivered presents, especially for the still growing children in the house. The presents will then be opened right before the children go to bed. A light dinner may also usually served in the evening.

December 25 is known as the first Christmas day and is spent with grandparents where the Christkind has also come and delivered yet more presents. This is usually the day where the larger extended family comes together and celebrates with a more formal dinner and present exchange.

December 26 is known as the second Christmas day and is usually spent with friends. This usually works out well for families who go to their children's grandparents home to celebrate. It gives the parents a chance to catch up with their friends who they have not seen in a while. It is also really nice to take advantage of the grandparents as babysitters so the parents can have an evening out.

Since we are an American-German family, we try to incorporate both traditions of the Christkind and Santa Claus. Additionally, there is another fellow who comes into the picture - Sankt Nikolaus or St. Nick who visits on December 6 and leaves behind little goodies for the children in their shoes. How to explain all of this to your child?  My children believe that Santa and St. Nick are brothers and all those men and women wearing Santa clothing in the stores and in public are just helpers, because Santa is majorly busy at the North Pole getting all those presents ready.

I wish you and your families a very happy holiday season filled with loving memories, peaceful moments and a healthy/prosperous new year.

Yours truly,


  1. Hallo Karen,
    da muss ich lachen, so also ist Deine Sicht der deutschen Weihnacht!
    Du hast Dich gut eingelebt!

  2. Karen....I found you by the lovely quilt you made with moda Kate Spain. I loved reading about your Christmas traditions. I live in Atlanta and my DIL is German and she and our son and grandsons celebrate by themselves on Christmas Eve.
    I would love to live in Germany. Lived there the first four years of my life and have visited 5 times since our son was stationed by amberg. They now live in the states and I miss visiting.
    Happy new year!

  3. Hi Cindy, thank you for the nice compliments. Atlanta is a very nice city to live in! I neglected to state in my post how MY FAMILY actually celebrates X-Mas. We celebrate just the four of us alone on X-Mas Eve. We always have even when I lived at home. Christmas Day if filled with the Santa & "der Weihnachtsman." Depending on which year we have, we will either drive to the grandparents or aunt/uncle of the kids where a big present exchange and dinner takes place. This year, we stayed home! My son and I got a stomach virus. ;.( We continued to Oma & Opa the next day though. Thank you for your support!


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