Advent and Christmas in Germany

Advent and Christmas in Germany are a time for traditional, family celebrations. Even in today's consumer-oriented and hectic world―or maybe because of it―the Christmas season is still considered a time for togetherness and simple pleasures. Christmas Eve, called Heiligabend, is the day that final decorations are put on the tree and families gather to share presents. Both December 25 and 26 are official holidays.

Germany.info Advent Calendar

Germany.info Advent Calendar

Welcome to the Germany.info Advent Calendar. Open a new window each day through December 24 and discover music, recipes, stories, crafts and even a few games that we hope will bring a touch of German Christmas tradition to your holiday season. Enjoy!

Christmas Market, (c) picture-alliance/dpa/Bildfunk

Christmas Markets are Favorite Shopping Destinations

A favorite pastime for Germans and tourists alike is savoring the winter holiday season at a local Christmas market. The colorful fairs spring up in most towns and cities for the four-week Advent season leading up to Christmas Eve.

Nicholas in training

The Legend of Saint Nicholas

A man with a long white beard, a bishop’s miter, and a thick red cape comes knocking on the door at some houses every December 6. Other children wake to find their shoes have been filled with treats. Who is this international man of mystery?

Advent Wreath, (c) picture-alliance/dpa-Report

Marking the Advent Season

Celebrating Advent is an important part of Christmas in Germany. For Christians both Protestant and Roman Catholic, it is a time of quiet contemplation that begins four Sundays before Christmas Eve.

Personal Items of Franz Xaver Gruber, (c) picture-alliance/akg-images/Erich Lessing

A Carol's Humble Origins

"Silent Night, Holy Night," one of the best known Christmas carols in the world,  was written in German and first premiered in Austria in 1818. After a performance in Leipzig it became popular across Germany and has since been translated into some 300 languages and dialects.

German Nutcrackers © picture alliance / ZB

The Nutcracker – A Symbol of Christmas

Although nutcrackers in various shapes and sizes have been around for thousands of years, the nutcracker soldier known the world over – and immortalized by Tchaikovsky – is of German origin, as is the story on which the popular ballet is based. 

Advent & Christmas

Christmas Market

German-Style Christmas Markets in the USA

Chicago's Christkindlmarket

Ringing in the holiday season, cities across the United States are celebrating with their own reincarnations of the traditional German Christmas market, each with its own unique flair.

Christmas Markets – a German Tradition

(© Federal Foreign Office)

Glühwein, cookies and sausage - in the run up to Christmas Germans flock to Christmas Markets across the country. It's a German tradition that's gaining in popularity - including abroad.

Videos: German Advent Wreaths

(© Germany.info)

How to Make a German Advent Wreath

(© Deutsche Welle)

The Advent wreath - a German creation