Fröhliche Weihnachten – Merry Christmas
Germany is a wonderful place to spend Christmas, it’s probably one of the most Christmassy places in the world. So if you’re lucky enough to spend Christmas in Germany you’ll need to learn some Christmas vocabulary, how to say Merry Christmas in German, what they eat, when they celebrate and some cool German Christmas traditions.
I have never spent Christmas day in Germany but I have been there during the Christmas season and it definitely needs to be added to your bucket list. Nothing will put you more in the Christmas spirit than getting lost in the Christmas markets. They’re like something out of a Christmas film.
Now let’s learn some fun German Christmas vocabulary to go alone with your newly learnt Fröhliche Weihnachten.
German Christmas Vocabulary
das Weihnachten — Christmas
der Heiligabend — Christmas Eve
die Adventszeit — Advent
der Adventskalender — Advent calendar
der Weihnachtsmarkt — Christmas market
das Krippenspiel — Nativity scene
die Weihnachtskarte(n) — Christmas card(s)
die Weihnachtslieder — Christmas carols
der Schnee — snow
das Schlittschuhlaufen — ice skating
die Stechpalme – holly
das Geschenkpapier – wrapping paper
der Kranz – the wreath
die Christbaumkugel – bauble
das Lametta -tinsel
Der Schneeengel – snow angel
die Kirche – church
der Engel -angel
Silvester -New Year
Der Silvesterabend – New Year’s Eve
die Mistel – mistletoe
der Tannenbaum / der Weihnachtsbaum — Christmas tree
das Geschenk — present / gift
Winter/ Winterzeit – Winter
Schlitten – sledge
Food and drink
der Glühwein — mulled wine
das Weihnachtsessen — Christmas dinner
die Gans — goose
der Lebkuchen — gingerbread
der Christstollen — German Christmas cake
Heißeschokolade – hot chocolate
Characters and people
der Weihnachtsmann — Santa Claus
das Christkindl — the Christ-child
die jungfrau maria – the Virgin Maria
der Schneemann – snowman
When do Germans celebrate Christmas?
The Christmas season in Germany begins on the 1st December, as the advent period is very important and is usually celebrated with advent calendars. But Christmas really begins on the 6th December. On the night of the 5th, German children leave their shoes outside and Nikolaustag comes to each house to leaves tasty treats inside the shoes of the good children and twigs inside the shoes of the naughty children.
German Christmas celebrations begin on the 24th December, on Christmas Eve. If you’ve spent Christmas in any other European countries, you’ll already know that this is quite common compared to the 25th that most English speaking countries tend to celebrate on.
In the early evening of the 24th, German families swap their gifts and many German children believe that Christkindls brings their gifts in person.
Then German families spend the 25th and the 26th December together eating food, playing with their Christmas gifts and spending time with their families.
What do German eat and drink at Christmas?
Traditional foods eaten at Christmas include:
- Roast goose or duck stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions or prunes
- Ginger bread
- Boiled potatoes
- Red cabbage
German Christmas Traditions
Who is Krampus?
Krampus is a much darker side of Christmas. Although not celebrated in Germany, Krampus plays a central role in Austrian Christmas (a country whose official language is also German). It is believed that during the Christmas season, Krampus a half demon, half goat figure punishes children who have misbehaved during the year.
That’s definitely one way to get your kids to behave and definitely worse than receiving coal in your stocking as you would in the UK if you were naughty.
The advent calendar is a big part of German culture and something you probably celebrate in your own country too. Incase you’re not, an advent calendar is a calendar of December that has lots of numbered doors. On each day of December, you open the corresponding door and behind it lies a treat or a Christmas picture.
German Christmas markets are famous worldwide and have spread to most other Christmas celebrating countries. Although you will have a Christmas market in your own country, if you ever have the opportunity to visit a German Christmas market, it’s an experience I definitely wouldn’t miss.
Our favourite Christmas market is the one in Frankfurt.
The Christmas Tree
Just like most countries, the Christmas tree is a central part of Christmas in Germany, but what makes it even more special is that the Christmas Tree originates from Germany and was made popular in the UK and Europe by Queen Victoria, who used to celebrate with a Christmas tree during her childhood in Germany and then brought it with her to the UK.
Now a tradition that started in Germany has spread all over the world, and even some none Christian or non religious countries will put up a Christmas tree in their cities around Christmas time.
The Christmas tree at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is a very important part of German celebrations, with thousands of people gathering to watch the Christmas tree lights going on. This is definitely one of the most important things to kick off the Christmas season and is a symbol of Christmas time through all of Germany.
6th January celebrations
Just like lots of European countries, Germany believe that 6th January was the day that the three wise men visited the baby Jesus to deliver his presents. And like other countries in Europe, they have celebrations to commemorate this.
In Germany it is very common for both children and teenagers to dress up as the three wise men and visit people’s houses. They walk around the community and knock on people’s doors. When the people answer their doors, the children sing carols and bless the house. The purpose of this is to collect money for those who need it, maybe a charity or good cause.
These groups of children are usually organised by local Catholic churches who decide where the money goes and who it helps. It’s a really nice tradition and very in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, where we should help others; it’s the season of giving.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to say Merry Christmas in German, some useful German Christmas vocabulary and all about German Christmas traditions.
If you’ve been lucky enough to experience Christmas in Germany or you’re planning a Christmas in Germany then let us know all about your experiences. We love to hear about what you’ve been up to, especially if it can help us to improve our information.
If you’re interested in learning other ways to say Merry Christmas, then have a look here.
We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic holiday season.