The arrival of December marks the coming of Christmas and New Year. Everyone basks in the festive galore. By the first week of December, roads, streets, shops and houses are robed in the festive spirit - each adoring wonderful Christmas decorations. The festive time starts with St. Nicholas Day, locally known as 'Nikolaustag', which falls on 6th December. Just like in other European countries, children in Germany put their shoe or boot outside the door on the night of 5th December (i.e. St Nicholas Eve), with the hope of finding them full of small toys the next morning. According to popular faith, St. Nicholas fills delicious treats in the boots of good kids and twigs in the shoes of all naughty children.
Christmas Celebrations in Germany
An interesting tradition practiced in Germany is the placing of advent wreath on a table, with four red candles in its center. One of the candles is lit on each Sunday preceding Christmas and the last one is lighted on Christmas Eve. Christmas tree, which bears its roots in Germany, is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the country. A distinctive tradition practiced in Germany is that kids are not allowed to take part in the beautification of the Christmas tree. People believe that the tree has certain spells which are harmful for children. As such, while the father keeps the children away in a separate room, the mother decorates the tree with fruits, candy, nuts, cookies, toys, angels, family treasures and candles, along with the gifts, which are placed below the tree.
Apart from this, plates filled with fruits, nuts, marzipan, chocolate and biscuits are laid for each family member. Once the decoration is complete, a bell is rung and children are allowed to come and watch the Christmas tree. During this time, Christmas story is read and carols are sung. This is accompanied by lighting of the sparklers and opening of the gifts. In Germany, Christmas is a great time for singing and having fun. The sound of music begins from the first week of advent and takes a high on Christmas Eve, or the holy evening, when the silent night is filled with soothing celestial music that announces the coming of God or the birth of Christ. The most famous of all Christmas carols 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht' (Silent Night), has its roots in Germany and was first heard during the 1818 Christmas.
In Germany, the concept of Santa Claus is replaced by Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, who is believed to bring in gifts for everyone. Amidst all such unique traditions and practices, one thing that remains as a common practice around the world is the devouring of an appetizing meal. In Germany, Christmas is a great time to feast and rejoice upon lavish dinners. Traditionally, a German Christmas menu comprises of delicious dishes, such as suckling pig, white sausage, macaroni salad, 'reisbrei' (a sweet cinnamon) and many regional dishes. As per the myth prevalent in the country, people should stuff their belly to the fullest on Christmas Eve; else they would be haunted by demons all through the night.