11. Dezember – Der Adventskalender
Weihnachtsbeleuchtung • Weihnachtshäuser • Christmas Lights
The traditional Christmas lighting seen on houses in the US and Canada is not widespread in German-speaking Europe. While you will see special Christmas lights and decorations on downtown city streets, the American custom of decorating one’s own house with Christmas lights and colorful decorations is less common in Germany.
However, in recent years a small band of Christmas-light fans has started a trend in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In neighborhoods from Hamburg to Vienna and Zurich, these enthusiasts have amazed and shocked their neighbors with elaborate American-style Christmas lighting. Many Germans enjoy this taste of “amerikanische Weihnachten,” but most wonder why anyone would pay such high electric bills for these Lichterhäuser or Weihnachtshäuser.
VIDEO 1: Das Weihnachtshaus in Calle 2016
The practice of lighting up one’s home with colorful lights for Christmas has met with mixed reactions in Germany. In the highly ecologically aware country, many people view the custom as a tasteless waste of energy. They also object to the swarms of people that decorated houses often attract. Some Weihnachtshäuser even charge admission and sell warm drinks and snacks to help cover the electric bill.
In one bizarre case in a town near Düsseldorf, neighbors complained about a single string of red Christmas lights strung on the balcony of an apartment. They claimed the red lights created a bad impression – by looking like a house of prostitution. The tenant simply ignored an order to remove the lights installed by his daughter, saying the family had a legal right to display Christmas lights.
With the advent of low-power LED lighting, many Christmas light enthusiasts can claim that even a massive installation consumes less power than a 1600-watt table-top cooker or space heater. The light shows are popular with most Europeans, even if they still tend to complain about energy waste. Over the last decade, decorated houses have become increasingly popular in German-speaking Europe, if still far less common than in North America.
VIDEO 2: Weihnachtsbeleuchtung 2012 in Wagram (Germany)
VIDEO 3: Interview (in German, 2008) with a German Christmas-lights hobbyist
WEB > RP-Online: Deutschlands größtes Weihnachtshaus – Article about Germany’s biggest “Weihnachtshaus” – in German: “Rund 450.000 Lichter schmücken Deutschlands größtes Weihnachtshaus im niedersächsischen Bücken.”
WEB > Hildesheimer Allgemeine: Weihnachtshäuser: Kitsch oder Zauber? (House Christmas Lights: Kitsch or Enchantment?) – 8. Dezember 2015
More Photos and Videos
WEB > Hambacher Weihnachtshäuser (Deutschland, 2011)
WEB > Weihnachtshaus in Aura (Video mit Musik)
WEB > Weihnachtshaus Gewinner – Basel (Video – Swiss German TV 2005 – YouTube)
WEB > Weihnachtshaus in Bräunlingen (Video mit Musik – YouTube)
AT THE GERMAN WAY
- Christmas from A to Z – German Christmas traditions and terms
- Advent – The Latin word means “arrival.” This custom begins on the first Advent Sunday around December 1.
- Krampus, the Christmas Devil of Alpine Europe – The good bishop-like St. Nicholas has a demonic, nasty companion known as Krampus.
- Photo Gallery: Christmas in Germany – Berlin – A visual tour of Christmas markets and other December sights in Berlin
- Christmas in the USA and Germany– A comparison chart
- German Christmas Carols – Popular carols with lyrics in German and English
- Barbarazweig – The legend and the Christmas custom
- Epiphany and the Sternsinger – January 6 in the Germanic Christmas tradition
- Erntedank (“harvest thanksgiving”) or Erntedankfest in Germany and Austria is different from the American Thanksgiving tradition.
- St. Nicholas – The many German St. Nicks
- Thomas Nast created the modern Santa image.
- The Christmas Pickle Ornament – Fact or fiction?
- Silent Night (Stille Nacht) – Our “Silent Night” page has the true story and related links.
- Holidays and Celebrations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland
- Glass Ornaments – a history
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