CHRISTMAS COMPARED > Christmas in the USA and Germany
Christmas in Austria, Germany, Switzerland (2)
Advent and Other Customs
The Advent tradition is a religious celebration in preparation for the arrival (or “advent”) of the Christ Child (das Christkind) on his “official” birthday, the 25th day of December. The Advent season and its celebration have changed over the years from a more serious, somber character (including giving up things, as for Lent) to one of a more joyous nature — including such treats as chocolate-filled Advent calendars. The four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve are a happy time—at least for those not too caught up in the increasingly hectic and commercial aspects of this time of the year.
Daily Christmas facts starting on Dec. 1 (in season)
The Advent or Christmas calendar began as a plain card with paper backing. On the face were 24 windows, that when opened revealed various Christmas symbols and scenes. These windows or small doors were to be opened, one each day, over the 24 days leading up to Heiligabend or Christmas Eve. The largest window is still reserved for December 24th and usually offers a view of the Nativity.
Today the most popular version of this calendar is the candy-filled variety. Instead of mere pictures, the windows open to reveal pieces of chocolate shaped to resemble stars, fir trees, and other Christmas symbols.
Of course, there are many other Germanic Christmas contributions. For instance, it is a real treat to wander through Germany's annual Christmas markets — the most famous being Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt — to see, taste, and smell all the Christmas goodies, from Lebkuchen (gingerbread) to Stollen (fruit bread). Marzipan, made with almonds and sugar, is also a German treat. And the aroma of Glühwein (“glow wine”) will warm you up even before you actually drink this German version of hot mulled wine.
There is much more to tell about Christmas in German-speaking Europe. We haven’t even touched on Krampus, Knecht Ruprecht, Barbarazweig, and the numerous other fascinating elements of Weihnachten. That’s why we have the links below to pages where you can find out more. Frohe Weihnachten!
Web content ©1997-2011 Hyde Flippo
Austria’s “Stille Nacht”
The world’s most famous Christmas song, “Silent Night,” came to us from Austria. Known as “Stille Nacht” in its original German, this beautiful Christmas carol has an interesting history.
To learn much more about the people and the fascinating story behind this carol, for “Silent Night” links, and to see the original German text (with English), see our “Silent Night” page.
Also see the Barbarazweig Legend.
“Ist die Weihnacht hell und klar,
hofft man auf ein fruchtbar Jahr.
Steckt die Krähe zu Weihnacht im Klee,
sitzt sie zu Ostern oft im Schnee.”
Traditional Bauernregel (“farmer’s/country saying”):
“If Christmas is bright and clear,
one hopes for an abundant year.
If the crow is standing in clover at Christmas,
she'll be sitting in snow at Easter.”
MORE > German Christmas Carols - Lyrics in German and English!
For more about the Christmas and Advent, see our Christmas links page.
NEXT > The “Silent Night” Story
Related Pages - Christmas in Germany
- Barbarazweig - The legend and the Christmas custom.
- Cultural Comparisons: Christmas in Germany and the USA - Comparing Christmas traditions
- Silent Night (Stille Nacht) - Our “Silent Night” page has the true story and related links.
- The German Pickle Ornament - Is it really a German tradition?
- Christmas Links - Our links list is so large, it has a page of its own!