Christmas, as a Christian festival, has become deeply rooted in German society. For many people, it is the most important time of the year and is associated with numerous customs and traditions.
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Christmas is deeply rooted in German society as a Christian holiday. For many people, it is the most important time of the year and is associated with numerous customs and traditions. As early as fall, stores offer special baked goods such as gingerbread, cookies and stollen. Lights, figurines and Christmas trees contribute to the Christmas atmosphere in the houses. Friends and colleagues meet at Christmas markets and at Christmas celebrations in clubs, companies, churches and in private settings.
Gifts and perfect mood
Christmas reminds us that God has turned to us in Jesus in an absolutely unique way. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s greatest gift to the world. This is why gifts are part of Christmas. For many Germans, presents are now more important than the memory of the birth of Jesus: in the weeks before Christmas – the so-called Advent season – many people go into a real buying frenzy. They are looking for the perfect gift, the perfect atmosphere, the perfect Christmas and are therefore more sentimental than usual. This is how many Germans focus on the love of people for each other, the family and peace in the world at Christmas. As a result, the holiday – often unconsciously and unintentionally – moves away from its Christian roots.
Church services and the Christmas story
Photo: Karl-Heinz Laube, pixelio.en
On Christmas Eve, the 24. December services are usually well filled. Because even if they don’t have a deep personal faith themselves, many Germans traditionally go to church at Christmas. These services are public and can be attended by anyone – guests from other cultures and religions are also welcome.
In many services on Christmas Eve, children act out the Christmas story: Jesus’ parents were forced to leave their home because of a census. In Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph had only a stable for shelter, where Jesus was born in the simplest of circumstances. Through angels of God, the first people learned about the birth of the Savior. They were simple shepherds. Later, a star led a group of wise men to Jesus – the son of Mary – in a stable. This story is also depicted in groups of figures called Christmas cribs. Many people have such a crib at home and you can find them in churches.
A special time
Photo: Achim Reichert, pixelio.de
Christmas services usually radiate a particularly festive atmosphere: Through special songs, texts, and special lighting. It is worth to visit such a Christmas service to get a feeling for Christmas. After it ends, people from the community usually go home quickly, often without further conversation, to celebrate with their families. This is also common and not at all rude.
During the Christmas days, that is the 25. and 26. December becomes very quiet in Germany. Almost all stores are closed, people retreat to their families. Christmas is usually celebrated only in the closest family circle. People often visit their parents and parents-in-law. Because the celebration in the small family is cultural, it is not considered rude or strange not to be invited to the family celebration.
On 31. December follows New Year’s Eve, which is often celebrated with loud fireworks. New Year’s Eve is no longer part of Christmas and marks the transition into the next year. We hope that during the Christmas season you will gain an insight into what this festival means in Germany and that you will be able to celebrate it with us from the heart. We wish you a merry and blessed Christmas!
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