German Christmas Calendar
Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Christmas!
Key Dates in the German Christmas Celebration
- 11. November - For many Germans and Austrians, St. Martin's Day (Martinstag) is the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Just as the late-November Thanksgiving holiday signals the start of the Christmas season in the US, Martinstag on November 11 tells Germans that Christmas is on the way. (For more about Martinstag, see Bräuche: Martinstag.)
- 26. November - Der Weihnachtsmarkt am Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin opens for the 2007 holiday season. (See photo below.) Considered one of Berlin's best Christmas markets, it is one of the first of over 25 Weihnachtsmärkte in the German capital to open. The Gendarmenmarkt market remains open through December 31. Other Berlin Weihnachtsmärkte run at various times during the Christmas season.
WEB > www.gendarmenmarktberlin.de (in German and English)
- 30. November - Andreastag, St. Andrew's Day. The patron saint of Scotland has little to do with Christmas in Germany, but his feast day falls in the pre-Christmas season. In German, he lends his name to the x-shaped Andreaskreuz (St. Andrew's cross, symbolizing his crucifixion), which is also the term used for German railroad-crossing warning signs.
- Grüner Sonntag - This day gets its name from the green Advent wreath (Adventskranz) that is inaugurated on the first Sunday following November 26 (Dec. 2 in 2007). Each of the following three Advent Sundays also has a name: Kupferner Sonntag (copper), Silberner Sonntag (silver) and Goldener Sonntag (golden). The Advent wreath custom spread across Germany following the First World War.
NEW for 2007!
with Christmas facts!
- 1. Dezember - Advent officially begins on the first Sunday after Nov. 26. (See Grüner Sonntag below.) Four Advent Sundays lead up to Christmas. The Adventkalender, with its 24 windows, helps children count down to Christmas Eve (Heiligabend), beginning am ersten Dezember.
- 2. Dezember - Grüner Sonntag ("green Sunday"), the first Sunday of Advent, is December 2, 2007. In 2008 the first Advent Sunday falls on November 30.
- 4. Dezember - In Catholic regions, the tradition of Barbarazweig begins on the feast day of die heilige Barbara.
- 5. Dezember - On the night of Nikolausabend ("Nicholas Eve") gifts are left for young children. See Dec. 6 below.
- 6. Dezember - Nikolaustag, the day of St. Nicholas, who is not to be confused with Santa Claus. On Nikolausabend, the eve of Dec. 6, Sankt Nikolaus, dressed like a bishop, comes with gifts for the chidren. On the morning of the 6th, the gifts are eagerly opened. He is usually accompanied by an evil, demonic counterpart called (varying by region) Pelzmarte, Pulterklas, Knecht Ruprecht, Habersack or Krampus. Dec. 6 is also the traditional date when local Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte, Christkindlmärkte) open in the main square of almost every town in Austria and Germany. Some Christmas markets (Nürnberg, Wien, etc.) are famous for their attractions and/or size. MORE > The Many German St. Nicks
- 20. Dezember - Thomasnacht is on or near the date of the winter solstice (Wintersonnenwende). On Thomasnacht traditional folks bake Kletzenbrot, a sort of fruit cake. Very few women today carry out another Thomasnacht tradition: running outside and hugging a tree trunk to bring fertility and a good harvest in the coming year.
- 21. Dezember - Thomastag, St. Thomas's Day. The Sunday before Christmas is also known as Thomastag or Goldener Sonntag
- 24. Dezember - Heiligabend, Christmas Eve is the most important time of the Germanic celebration. No waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney. The presents (from the Christkindl, Christ Child) are opened under the tree that night (an event known as die Bescherung). Christmas dinner usually comes after that. In religious families, attending midnight Christmas mass (Christmette) is also a part of the celebration.
- 25-26. Dezember - Germans get two Christmas days. The second (Boxing Day in Britain and Canada) is traditionally devoted to visiting friends and family.
- 31. Dezember - New Year's Eve (Silvester) in German Europe is celebrated with fireworks and the usual parties and festivities. An unusual New Year's custom in Germany is the annual TV broadcast of the "Dinner for One" sketch (in English) - familiar to all Germans.
- 1. Januar - New Year's Day is often a time of gift-giving for people who serve you throughout the year, such as the postman or the garbagemen.
- 5. Januar - "Twelfth Night" - the last of the twelve nights or days of Christmas. "On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
- 6. Januar - Epiphany is known as "Three Kings Day" or Heilige Drei Könige in German. It commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men (three kings) in Bethlehem. This is the end of the Christmas season in Europe. The last of the Christmas trees go in the trash and the "twelve days of Christmas" come to an end.
A special Advent calendar with daily Christmas facts!
NEXT > Christmas Glossary (English-German)
German Christmas Word Search
An online word search with German Christmas vocabulary.
German Christmas Countdown
Part One of this Christmas article.
A special Advent calendar with daily Christmas facts! Starts on December 1.
German Christmas Carols
Sing along in German! Lyrics in German and English.
German Christmas Recipes
How about some Glühwein (hot mulled wine) or Lebkuchen (gingerbread)?
A German Christmas
German Christmas customs, traditions and vocabulary.
Photos: Christmas in Germany
Christmas markets and Christmas sights in Germany.
Top German Music CDs
Your Guide's top picks.
German Christmas Guide
All of our German Christmas pages.
Online listening. Music, radio and TV sites in German.
Many more Web links for German songs, artists, lyrics, etc. from your Guide.
Other Christmas Links
A German Christmas
From the German Way site.
See the German division of Amazon.com for many German Christmas items - books, CDs, etc.
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