German Christmas Traditions- Celebrate a German Christmas Anywhere

German Christmas customs traditions and practices can be celebrated here in America. There really is something special about this time of year that makes me look back to my childhood. The candle light, the smell of chocolate and cookies, the wonder of the Christmas Tree.

In my memory, the feeling of a German Christmas is more of stillness… of enjoying the time. There is less of a frantic feeling that things must happen, that presents must be bought, that decorations need to rival the neighbor’s. It’s a less-is-more feeling. Less glitz, less running around, less STUFF… more enjoying the time with family.

It’s lighting the candles on the Advent Wreath, and spending an hour or so together with cake and a coffee.
It’s enjoying an evening playing a Game or putting together a Puzzle.
It’s making your home Gemütlich and light for family and friends.

I don’t remember many of the gifts I got as a child. I do remember candles on the Sunday Breakfast table, playing a dice game with my Opa while eating cookies I baked with my mother, and friends coming to visit during Advent for cake and singing.

That’s what Christmas in Germany is about… Light in the Darkness.

I guess what I’m saying is… take a look at the list, and maybe adopt the parts you want. Do not feel like I just made your to-do list LONGER. 

German Christmas Traditions

Where I am in California, we don’t have snow… there aren’t German Christmas Markets… and I don’t have an Opa who sends packages with supplies anymore. Still, I find ways to make our Christmas more than just a day of presents. Our home is a bubble of Christmas, the way we want it to be.

Click any Image to learn more.

German Christmas Traditions for Children

Christmas is extra special for kids. This doesn’t mean it has to be about presents and money… it also means time spent together. Here are some Traditions for kids that you can work into your Christmas celebrations. Click through to learn more Here

German Christmas Traditions for Kids



Celebrating Advent-

Advent is the time leading up to Christmas. An Advent Wreath counts the four Sundays before Christmas, while an Advent Calendar counts down the days in December …up to Christmas Eve. In Germany, Advent is a special time… a time to prepare for Christmas.

Advent Wreaths count the four Sundays before Christmas…. Learn more about Traditional German Advent Wreaths here…

traditional german advent wreath


Advent Calendars count the days until Christmas, starting with December 1, and ending on the 24th… Christmas Eve. Read more about Traditional German Advent Calendars HERE


Traditional German Advent Calendars

Christmas Time Gift Givers

The Christkind

The Christkind brings gifts to many German Children on December 24th. A bell will ring when she has departed, and the Bescherung begins. Find out more about how this tradition started here…

what is the christkind

St Nicholas Day

St Nicholas Day, on Dec 6th, is the day when St Nicholas brings good children treats in their shoes. Learn more about the tradition of St Nicholas… and how he became Santa Claus Here

german christmas traditions

St Nicholas doesn’t travel alone! But who he travels with depends on where in Germany you are from… learn more here.

who are the companions st nicholas travels with


Krampus lore has taken hold in America, find out more about Krampus HERE

krampus in german folklore


Throughout Germany, Knecht Ruprecht is better known as a St Nicholas Companion than Krampus. Learn more about Knecht Ruprecht HERE

who is knecht ruprecht


St Nicholas and the Christkind both bring gifts… so, who is this third gift giver? The Weihnachtsmann is more of a secular figure, find out more here..

what is the weihnachtsmann


Christmas Markets in Germany have a special magic… 

You may not be able to visit one in Germany this year, but there are plenty of German-style Christmas Markets in the USA and Canada

German Christmas Markets

Virtual Christmas Market

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets have been a fixture in Germany for hundreds of years! Learn more about them here..

history of german christmas markets


German Christmas Eve Tradition

There was a special feeling on Christmas Eve. We would come in from Church Services, and we girls would have to wait outside while my parents went to see if das Christkind (der Weinachtsman in other houses) had arrived. Then we would be brought in to the living room, the only lights would come from the Christmas Tree and candles that were lit around the room. Under the tree were presents. The pyramids would be spinning. My father would have put German Christmas music on the record player, and we would all sing. My sister and I would be vibrating just a bit with anticipation.

Finally, we would sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht“, and as the song ended, there was a moment of calm. We would all kiss and wish each other a Frohe Weinachten… and then there were presents, warm drinks, treats and laughter.

I try to carry on this tradition for my kids. It’s not always easy, being so different from what their friends are doing. But, I want them to have that same feeling of wonder. Of being led into a candle-lit room… of singing… of being together.

german christmas

Combining Traditions…. It’s not always easy, but it’s YOUR Christmas. Here’s an idea.

german and american christmas traditions

German Christmas Foods and Recipes

Christmas Dinner

In our home a Weihnactsgans (goose) was standard… along with Rotkohl and Klöße. See it here

traditional christmas dinner in germany

With a Bunte Teller, you can fill up these Plates with Cookies and Treats! Order them here

what is a bunter teller

Looking for Cookies, chocolates, and all sorts of other German goodies? Check these out!

German Christmas Cookies


Because… a German Christmas requires German Chocolate…. it just does. Find your favorites HERE

german christmas chocolate


Everything you EVER wanted to know about the quintessential German Christmas Cookie 

what is lebkuchen

I love the Schmidt Tins… not only do you get delicious cookies, you get a collectible tin! They make great gifts for anyone on your list… find them here

schmidt lebkuchen nuremberg




 Don’t forget the Glühwein!

This warm mulled wine will make everything feel warm and cozy. Find the recipe here

traditional german gluhwein recipe


Something a little different… this warm wine drink is made richer with Marzipan and chocolate… Find the recipe here.

weihnachtspunsch recipe

Feuerzangenbowle…..Glühwein on FIRE!

Take Glühwein to a new level… add FLAMES! For Feuerzangenbowle, a cone of sugar is soaked in rum, then set alight on a rack over the wine. It’s absolutely delicious. Find the recipe and tools here




 German Christmas Music

Looking for Cds? Maybe you want to download the words of your favorite songs? Or you need a songbook for the family… find them HERE

german christmas traditions


German Holiday Decorations

The Christmas Tree

Did you know that the Christmas Tree originated in Germany? Click to learn more about that here

where did the Christmas tree originate
Who remembers Lametta?

You can still find these delicate icicles for your Christmas Tree. Lametta, new and vintage

German tinsel cover


Pyramids, Nutcrackers, Smokers, Ornaments of all types!

The Authentic German decorations are made to be heirlooms… not just something you toss in a box, or replace next year. They cost more, but the quality is worth it. (Again… less is more)

German Wooden Christmas Pyramids!

Light and motion! And some interesting History. Find them HERE

german christmas pyramids


Straw Ornaments are beautiful decorations made of Humble ingredients. Learn more about them here

german straw christmas ornaments

Nutcrackers have been guarding German Households for years. Learn more about these nut-loving soldiers HERE

history of german nutcrackers


Schwibbogen come directly from the Erzgebirge… originally they were used to light the mines for the Christmas Eve Service. Learn more about Schwibbogen here



German Hand Blown Glass Ornaments are a delicate and beautiful decoration for the Christmas Tree. Learn more about their history, and find them HERE

german hand blown glass ornaments


The Steinbach company is BACK from bankruptcy!! Learn more, and find a sweet ornament here

steinbach ornaments

German Incense Smokers or Rauchermännchen are more than just an amusement… these smokers keep the house smelling nice, and ward off evil spirits. Learn more here

german christmas traditions

Moravian Stars are a beautiful decoration... that started as a math lesson! Learn more here

What is a moravian star



Fold paper stars… Froebel Stars.. are a craft activity AND a decoration. Read more here

Froebel Star strips


Love these German Wooden Santas… A line of them stands on my Living Room cabinet. Find some for yourself here

german christmas traditions

This little Angel Orchestra has been part of my world for years… learn more about the Wendt and Kuhn Angels here

wendt and kuhn angels

Sigh…. the Pickle… It’s not really a thing, but if it is for you, why not? Learn the real story here


german tradition pickle ornament


 Christmas Memories- A German Girl in America

Remembering Christmases past…

german christmas in america



What is the Epiphany – January 6

The 12th Day of Christmas has a special celebration called the Epiphany. 


what is the epiphany


And then Christmas is over for another year…

when do you take down your christmas tree

send gifts to germany

german christmas customs traditions


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