20. Dezember – Der Adventskalender
Thomasnacht & Kletzenbrot
The longest night of the year (December 20) is called die Thomasnacht. The next day (December 21), the shortest day of the year, is der Thomastag, which originally honored the “doubting” Thomas apostle on the winter solstice (Wintersonnenwende). Since 1970 the Roman Catholic calendar has celebrated the St. Thomas feast day on July 3, but the Germanic Thomas Day observance is still on December 21. A German saying goes: „Ab Thomastag wächst der Tag um einen Hahnenschrei.“ (“After Thomas Day the day grows by a rooster crow.”)
Various superstitions relate to this night (and day). It is a night of ghosts and spirits, and is supposed to be a good time to predict the future using Bleigiessen (“lead pouring,” predicting the future by the shape of molten lead dropped into cold water) or Schuhwerfen (shoe tossing). On Thomasnacht maidens (and other people) bake Kletzenbrot, a fruit bread containing dried pears (gedörrte Birnen, “Kletzen” or “Klötzen”), raisins, figs, plums, and nuts. This is also an Advent custom, with some people beginning to bake Kletzenbrot on or around November 30. In the video below a nice lady shows you how it’s done – in German.
VIDEO: Kletzenbrot und Früchtebrot selber machen | Kochen und Küche (3:27)
Maidens and Marriage
On Thomas Night maidens hoping to marry toss a shoe or slipper back over their heads. The one whose shoe falls with the tip pointing to the door will marry in the following year. A related superstition says that a young woman who lies naked on a bed/horse/bench (it varies) on Thomas Night will see her future husband in a dream that night. Another old custom is for young women to run outside and hug fruit tree trunks (for fertility).
WEB > Thomasnachtbrauchtum in Rüdesheim am Rhein – St. Thomas Night Observances in Rüdesheim – with photos (in German/auf Deutsch)
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
Legal Notice: We are not responsible for the content of external links.