Christmas Traditions From Germany

Get a map of the world and help your kids find a nation that celebrates Christmas. Next, do a little research about the Christmas traditions in that country.  Finally, do a project or make a recipe for one of those traditions.  Here’s an example of this activity using Germany.

Father Christmas riding a goat, an old Scandinavian version.  Public domain.
Father Christmas riding a goat, an old Scandinavian version. Public domain.

Christmas in Germany

Here’s some ideas about Germany’s Christmas traditions (some of them are popular in the United states and other countries as well):

  • Make an Advent Calendar.   An advent calendar is a countdown to Christmas.  Most people start with December 1st and take one item off (or put one on) their calendar until Christmas.  The chocolate filled ones you buy in the store are fun and tasty.
  • Celebrate the arrival of the three wise men on January 6. Germans put the letters C M B above their doorways. The letters stand for the names of the three wise men – “Caspar” “Melchior” and “Balthasar.”
  • The days between December 25th and January 6th are the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Germans consider this entire period a holiday.
  • Give some gifts: St. Nikolaus is not Santa Claus in Germany, he is a saint and his day is celebrated December 6th.  The American concept of Santa Claus is very recent and the name Kris Kringle is a corruption of the German “Christkindle,” which means Christ child.  It is the Christ Child who delivers gifts in Germany.
Christkind, or Christkindle, delivers gifts to a German home. Deutsch: Stadt Gottes, Illustrierte Zeitschrift für das katholische Volk, Sammelband 1893. Public domain.
  • Put up a tree: The Germans invented the Christmas tree, which to them symbolizes eternal life and Christ, because the tree is always an evergreen.

Our-Perfect-Christmas-Tree

  • Sing a song: The hymn “Silent Night” was written in Austria in the German language.  Learn about the fascinating story behind this song.

  • Make some German treats, such as gingerbread or marzipan, or how about some of that German chocolate . . . mmmm.

When you are done learning about Germany, choose another country and find out the neat Christmas traditions they celebrate.  How do they compare with your own?  Can you see commonalities?

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One Comment

  1. Karen

    A friend of mine has a tradition in her family that the 3 wisemen bring them each a small gift on 3 Kings' Day (Jan. 6). One year her mother forgot to set out a couple of the gifts on Christmas Eve, so she started the tradition of the 3 Kings' Day gifts and it stuck ever since.

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