18. Dezember – Der Adventskalender
German and Austrian Christmas Carols
Almost five centuries after the Protestant Reformation, Germany’s Christians are about evenly divided between Catholics (Katholiken) and Protestants (Evangelische). The great reformer (Reformator), Martin Luther himself, translated many of the traditional Latin hymns and carols used in the Catholic mass into German. His first Protestant hymnal was published in 1524.
As time went by, both Catholics and Protestants created hymns designed to be sung for special occasions, including Christmas. Most German Christmas carols (Weihnachtslieder) fall into one of three categories: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. In more recent times, secular, non-religious carols about Christmas trees, snow, snowmen, Santa (der Weihnachtsmann), reindeer, and gifts have become popular, especially for children.
The world’s most popular, most famous Christmas carol of all time was written in Austria. “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) was written by Joseph Mohr with music by Franz Gruber. It was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818, but was almost lost to the world after that. Upon its rediscovery, it spread around the globe and has been translated from German into many other languages. For more about the history of “Stille Nacht,” see Austria’s “Silent Night”.
Das Lutherjahr 2017
500 years ago, in 1517, legend has it that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, thus starting the Protestant Reformation. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of that revolutionary act. See Unhaunted Graves: Halloween, Reformation Day, “Luther Year” and Totensonntag for more.
CAROLS > German and Austrian Christmas Carols – Popular carols with lyrics in German and English
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.
- 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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