If America truly is the melting pot of the world, then the pot reaches a boil around Christmastime, for this is the time of year that Christmas traditions from around the world converge, overlap and become so unified that it is sometimes difficult to tell where they truly began.
As Ornamentshop.com continues its journey around the world, there is no mistaking the profound influence that Germany has had on Christmas traditions in virtually every country on the globe. Without Germany, it’s quite possible that Christmas would be devoid of a few focal points most people hold dear, including the song “Silent Night,” the Christmas tree and the Advent calendar. Then there is the issue of the older gentlemen with the long, white beard who bestows gifts upon children. He too is as German as the buttery, fruity and delicious Stollen, which originated in the city of Dresden in 1329.
Angels and Christkindlmarkets Enliven Christmas in Germany
As if all this isn’t enough to swell German pride, there is the story of the golden angel, who has captivated Germans since the 18th century. A craftsman from Nuremberg carved her in tribute to his daughter, whom he lost at a young age to a mysterious illness. The more he dug into chunks of wood to finesse and beautify the angel, the more people in town seemed to want an angel for their own tree or fireplace mantel.
The angel, standing regally in a grand dress and two golden wings, continues to be a ubiquitous figure at Christkindlmarkets throughout the country, where vendors sell handmade toys and gifts as well as meats, breads and sweets.
Similar Christmas markets of another name, Weihnachtsmarkts, date back to the 15th century in Germany. In larger cities, they might feature musicians, dancers and the favored Christmas market beverage: Glühwein. The markets showcase Germany’s rich Christmas heritage and serve as bustling community focal points, drawing the German people together night after night during Christmas in Germany.
The frivolity reaches a fever pitch on Christmas Eve, which is even more important than Heiligabend, or Christmas Day. Families often gather for a traditional German meal of duck, goose, rabbit, turkey or a roast, accompanied by dishes such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage and potato dumplings. And as any true German knows, a side dish of grilled sausages – known as wurst – would be lost without a heaping bed of sauerkraut underneath.
For many families, Christmas Eve culminates with a visit by the Christkind, an angel-messenger sent by the Christ child who may be accompanied by a mischievous companion, such as Knecht Rupprecht, Pelznickle and Ru-Klas, as he delivers gifts to children to celebrate Christmas in Germany. Wearing a flowing white robe, a white veil and gold wings, the Christkind often enters by an open window and rings a bell as he departs.
During Christmas, people around the world can proclaim to be just a little bit German – and with admiration for the rich traditions that this European country has spawned.
Share the full story of Christmas in Germany with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. It’s the next best thing to sharing a warm piece of Stollen over a steaming mug of spicy German tea.