Visiting Germany during the holiday. A German Christmas to remember

The holidays are moving closer and this makes me look back to a wonderful Christmas that we spent with family a year ago. The memories we made will always be cherished and I love to think back on them; especially while I am preparing for a great Christmas here in the States. I brought some of the traditions from my time growing up in Germany as well as some memories from our last visit with family back with me to share.

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In Germany, we have many traditions around the Holidays. I loved them all when I was growing up and I didn’t want my children to miss out on these experiences. That is why last year, we decided to introduce our American raised, bilingual speaking children to a German Christmas / New Year with Oma & Opa (their grandparents). I have a great post on traveling with children if you would like to know what happened on our trip to Germany. (click here)

 

Me and our two children visited for two and a half months our German side of the Family, until my husband joined to us on the last part of our trip. It was the perfect time since our children at this time where 9 months and 4 years old. It gave us the opportunity to travel for a longer period of time and we made it count!!!

 

Kindergarten in Germany
Kindergarten in Germany

Oh, what fun it was to see the entire family. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and of course Oma & Opa. My husband and I wanted for our children to practice their German so we had this great opportunity to send our 4-year-old to visit a German Kindergarten with his older cousin for 3 weeks before the holiday vacations in Germany started. He not only started to fluently speak fraenkisch (a dialect from Franconia, where I grew up) but he also got to see and learn all these wonderful traditions that I got to enjoy in my childhood.

 

Since he visited a German Kindergarten, he got to enjoy a wonderful tradition on November 11. Called “St. Martins Umzug” (St. Martin parade). In honor of St Martin of Tours. this tradition consists, of children walking around town with decorative lanterns and singing songs about St. Martin.

 

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On the first Sunday of December, the 1st Advent, we lit the first candle on our Advents wreath as the tradition required us to do. It always burned while we enjoyed some family time at our dining room table during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t know about you but a burning candle around the holidays has a wonderful light; something special and mystical. For me, its light represents warmth, happiness, and the arrival of Jesus. We want to teach our children that the holidays are a time of hope, family and Joy.

(Advents wreath, that is a Christian tradition symbolizing the time of the four weeks of advent.)


 

The time between December 1st and the 24th is the Christkindlemarket/ Weihnachtsmarket, which is a big drawing point for the weekends. You get to see all the different booths, enjoy the delicious Gluehweihn (a hot beverage with or without alcohol), and all the different candies, Christmas cookies and food they sell. My children loved to visit the Christkindlemarket with all the Christmas lights, trees, and the festive music that is played there; not to mention all the waffles and candies they could eat. They had a wonderful time there.

 

 

German Santa at Christmas market

On December 6th, St. Nikolaus (Santa Clause) and Knechttrubrecht (Kind of like an anti-Santa Clause in a black coat) comes to your home and checks their lists to see if you where a good boy/girl or bad. They will bring a little gift (a stocking) that usually includes nuts, mandarins, a chocolate Santa, and a little toy. But If you did not behave, Knechttrubrecht will kidnap you or give you a spanking. (We never got any spankings or taken, but just the thought of him maybe doings so made us the best behaving kids.)

 

 

 

 

For my little munchkins, only St Nikolaus came. They sang him a little song and he mentioned what he saw during the year that he liked about them and he also mentioned some things that need improving. (Parents told Santa what to say). They promised to do better and got their little goody bag.

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Germans love their holidays, so Christmas is celebrated 3 days long. On December 24th (Christmas Eve) We go to church first and after the service we have dinner with the closest family. After a delicious meal, usually something simple like bratwurst & sauerkraut (brats & sauerkraut), we go into Beschaehrung (opening the presents). We sit for hours and enjoy the company of the family and talk.

 

On December 25th (first Christmas day) we usually visit the grandparents, who have prepared a wonderful festive meal (usually duck or some kind of roast for the entire family). This is the time where we see all the extended family. We eat, drink, open presents and talk for hours (you may notice that taling and spending time with family is a staple for the holidays).

 

On December 26th (second Christmas day) my family usually stays at home and rests from the days before. After all, the food is very rich and all the talking and meeting can get exhausting.

 

However, my children really enjoyed it. They got spoiled and loved on from so many family members and friends that they didn’t want to ever leave. They learned that on Christmas Eve the Christkind (Christmas Engel) comes and brings the tree and the presents. They have learned that family, no matter where they are in the world, are close to us through memories and traditions. They enjoy thinking about all those great moments and telling friends and family in the States how things are done at Oma and Opa’s house in Germany. They love to sit around the table in the morning with the advents wreath and enjoy their breakfast as well as waking up in their new PJ’s on Christmas morning to open presents.

 

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my family Christmas in Germany. What kind of traditions do you have on Christmas with your family? I want to hear about it, so write me and let me know!

 

Happy Holidays

 

XOXO

 

Corina

 

Books for German Christmas:

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