These Beloved Foods And Traditions Are At The Center Of Every German Christmas – TheTravel

How is Christmas celebrated in Germany, you ask? With plenty of food, drink, enchanting Christmas markets, and, of course, gingerbread.
In Germany, the Christmas traditions begin on Christmas Eve and continue until Christmas night, when a big dinner is prepared for family and friends. It looks quite a bit different from many other parts of the world where food is at the center of the celebration and traditional customs make up the rest. In Germany, Christmas Eve usually begins with a light meal because families attend midnight mass, followed by traditional breakfast to head up a large dinner.
Additionally, traditions include things such as the legend of Krampus and everything that goes with it, marking Advent calendars, and decorating the Christmas tree, something which is still fairly modern compared to the rest of Germany’s traditions.
Traditionally, Christmas Eve begins at a family member’s house and starts with the decorating of the Christmas tree. This is a Christmas Eve tradition whereas, in much of the world, the tree trimming begins weeks earlier, with some in the US putting their trees up the day after Thanksgiving or even earlier. The ornaments used are usually wooden and in some homes, actual candles are also placed throughout the tree, similar to the tradition in Denmark of decorating the tree with festive candles before gathering around it to sing carols. After this, the exchange of Christmas gifts happens, followed by plenty of wine and usually platters of Advent cookies.
The entire family goes to church for midnight Mass but not before dining together. The Christmas Eve meal is traditionally kept very light and is usually a fish dish with carp, hake, or salmon being the main dish. The rest of the meal is often meatless and supplemented with plenty of vegetables, with the only appearance of meat potentially being in the potato salad. Sides such as fried potatoes, called kartoffelpuffer, are usually made, and sauerkraut is always in attendance, as it’s a German staple.
Related: The Most Memorable Christmas Dinner Traditions From Around The World
The following morning, Christmas is started off with a very traditional breakfast which is quite light and not very out of the ordinary. However, a German breakfast looks very different from the pancakes, eggs, and waffles that many of us are familiar with first-thing in the morning. Throughout Germany, plates of meats and cheeses are usually set out for a light meal, sometimes accompanied by bread and hard-boiled eggs for noshing. Stollen, a traditional German cake, is always served with tea in the afternoon but other than that, everything is kept very light in preparation for the large dinner meal that’s to come in the evening.
When it’s time for dinner, poultry is at the center of the meal with most households cooking either turkey, duck, or goose. This is usually served with braised red cabbage which is another German staple, and dumplings that are called Serviettenknödel. Traditionally, there are no sweets to follow dinner in Germany as the Advent cookies are usually served for Christmas Eve and snacked on throughout Christmas Day.
In Germany, the month of December actually begins with St. Nicholas Day, which starts on December 5th. It’s said that on this night, both St. Nicholas and his helper, Knecht Ruprecht, will visit and leave goodies, such as chocolate, candies, or fruits, in their newly-polished shoes that are left outside their bedroom doors. If a child has been naughty, however, they might find coal in place of what could have been something sweet to snack on.
Related: Britain Is Home To Some Of The Best Christmas Traditions In The World
Christmas markets are another important part of the holiday season, not just in Germany but throughout Europe. In Germany, these markets are known as Weihnachtsmärkte. There, local vendors set up booths and lights adorn the streets along with holiday decor, transforming each town and city into an illuminated wonderland – the perfect setting for holiday shopping. Here, locals and tourists in town for the season can also find traditional street food to snack on while they shop around for unique holiday items.
When it comes to German holiday drinks, there’s one, in particular, that has grown quite a reputation during the holiday season. The drink is called Feuerzangenbowle and means ‘fire tongue.’ The drink is made with a high-alcohol content rum and mulled wine, making it a hefty treat but has become a solid tradition among family and friends throughout Germany and is made in large batches to enjoy throughout the night. The drink is so popular that it was even featured in a movie, Die Feuerzangenbowle, which is where some people may have first heard about the intense holiday punch.
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Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper. In college, she majored in English Literature with an emphasis in Political Science, soaking up most creativity and method from one of the last professors to study under famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The more she wrote, the more she learned about the world and, more importantly, herself. She has been writing professionally and has been published since the age of 19, and for nearly a decade has covered topics in entertainment, lifestyle, music news, video game reviews, food culture, and now has the privilege of writing and editing for TheTravel. Katie has a firm belief that every word penned is a journey into yourself and your own thoughts, and through understanding this, people can begin to understand each other. Through her voice, she brings personality, research, and a bit of friendly sarcasm to every piece she writes and edits.


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