Hi everyone! We are now on the run up to Christmas and I am back with an article on different Christmas traditions in Germany and things that I have experienced so far during this festive period.
Firstly, as Daniel has mentioned, “Weihnachtsmärkte” (Christmas markets) run from the end of November until the end of December and are a big thing here in Germany. They consist of lots of wooden huts and stalls that sell different handmade crafts, clothing and food. There are also lots of handmade “Spielzeuge” (toys) that you can buy. I have certainly been able to get the majority of my Christmas shopping done at these markets! A word that I have heard recently is “Krimskrams” (bits and pieces) and this word definitely sums up the type of things that you can buy at the Christmas markets. Having been to lots of different markets including Münster, Hamburg and Osnabrück, I have also tried lots of new things to eat. When you go to the Christmas markets you can smell food all around you. Some of my favourite Weihnachtsmarkt treats have to be “Glühwein” (mulled wine), “Bratwurst” (fried German sausage) and “Reibekuchen” which are German pancakes made from potato, flour and egg and are often flavoured with onion or garlic. You can also get these with “Apfelmus” which is apple purée. In addition to interesting foods to try, there is also sometimes an “Eislaufbahn” (ice rink) where you can go “Schlittschuhlaufen” (ice-skating).
Speaking of food, my “Gastfamilie” (host family) introduced me to “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread) and “Stollen” which is a fruit cake containing fruit and marzipan and is covered with icing sugar. My German family has also been teaching me about some German Christmas traditions. Firstly, on the night of 5th December children leave their boots or shoes out and believe that St. Nicholas comes and puts chocolate, fruit and nuts in their boots if they have been good and leaves potatoes, coal, or twigs if they have been bad!
I have also learnt about the differences between Christmas here and in Scotland. In Scotland we have Christmas Eve on 24th, Christmas Day on 25th and then Boxing Day on 26th. In Germany, however, they have “Heiligabend” (Holy Eve) on 24th and this is their main Christmas day where close family put the tree up and when the children receive their presents. “Die Bescherung” is the German word for gift giving and this is done at the end of the day. On 25th they then have their erster Weihnachtstag and then their zweiter Weihnachtstag on 26th and these days are meant for families to visit each other.
So I have learnt a lot about German culture this month and I love all the snow and crisp winter mornings. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to getting home to see my friends and family over Christmas. Bis bald!