The Christmas holiday in Germany begins December 24th and ends on the 26th. On the 24th (Christmas Eve), most Germans work a half day and shops are open until the early afternoon. Gifts are usually opened on the evening of the 24th. Christmas day is a little different. Unlike the U.S., Germany celebrates two Christmas days, the 25th and the 26th.
Christmas weather in Germany is usually around 28-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow is not very common during this time. You may get lucky if you are visiting a town which is located at a higher elevation. On average Germany probably gets snow one out of five years in lower areas. Christmas in Germany may be one of the most unique Christmas experiences you ever have.
With the famous Christmas markets in almost every town you come across, you are sure to have the time of your life. Whether you visit Germany during the Holiday Season for business or pleasure, you will have a lot to talk about when you return home. The way Germans celebrate this holiday is not much different than the way Americans do.
The tradition of the Christmas tree with the presents underneath is of course the main tradition. You will find lights all over the place as you will in the U.S. Stockings are traditional as well, as they are hung and filled with goodies for the kids. Santa Claus (Weihnachtsmann) is no different. The big-bearded man dressed in red, who rides in a slay pulled by rain deer.
Children are always excited to see what Santa left them under the tree. Lets talk about some of the things you will experience during the Christmas holiday in Germany.
Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) – Possibly the number one attraction during Christmas time in Germany. These exciting functions usually start toward the end of November and end on the 22nd or 23rd of December in bigger cities like Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich. In smaller cities they are normally held on one weekend in December.
Each town holds their own Chrismas market so it is not uncommon for them to be held on different weekends. Traditionally, the Mayor of the town opens the Christmas market by lighting an enormous tree. They are a place you can go with your family to enjoy the Christmas season and take in every wonderful thing this season brings. Markets are usually held at the city center in a public, open area. You just walk up to the area and enjoy. You may not want to drive to the markets though.
Germany has very limited parking spots during normal months and it is almost impossible to get a parking spot anywhere close to a Christmas market. There is one option if you wish to drive, you can park in a garage and pay approx. 2 EURO/hour but I will warn you, the Gluehwein tends to sneak up on you ;-). There are several things to experience during these fests. Below are just a few of the more traditional ones.
- Gluehwein (Glow Wine) – This is a very popular alcoholic drink during the Christmas holiday in Germany. Gluehwein is a warm red wine that is served out of small shacks at these fests. Gluewein is normally only served during the Christmas season but you can purchase it year-round at a German liquor store.
- Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) – The traditional gingerbread that you will see is covered in chocolate. You will see several shapes and sizes, decorated or not as you wonder through the fest. The city of Nuremberg provides the most famous gingerbread that can be found all over Germany during the holiday season.
- Nutcracker Soldiers and Drummers – These famous figurines can be found throughout any fest you visit as well. They range from miniature sizes to extremely large and there are several different styles to choose from.
- Chestnuts (Maronen) – Just like the famous song, chestnuts are ‘roasted on an open fire’ and served to you very warm. You will notice many people munching on these goodies throughout the fests as well.
Visit our German Christmas Food page for a list of all of the most popular and authentic German christmas foods, dishes and drinks.