Christmas is one of the most important holidays in Germany. The Christmas celebration begins when the church enters the period of Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas Day. Christmas is also enlivened by the presence of a Christmas market called Weihnachtsmarkt, and the most famous markets are located in Nuremberg and Dresden. In the Weihnachtsmarkt, you can find a wide assortment of Christmas trinkets, food, fruit, and Gluhwein (mulled wine, which is wine with spices). There are also typical Christmas decorations and a Weihnachtspyramide, a Christmas pyramid. Christmas pyramids originated in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany.
Advent is counted down with an Advent Calendar. The Advent Calendar can have a variety shapes. While Advent Kranz, or Advents Sonntags, is an Advent Wreath. There are four candles in the wreath, and one is lit the four Sundays before Christmas.
In addition to the above traditions, Germany also commemorates Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th. Children place their shoes in front of their homes, hoping that Saint Nicholas will fill them with candies and chocolates. Germans usually decorate their Christmas trees on the day before Christmas Eve. Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most important Christmas traditions. December 25th and January 6th are celebrated as the first and second day of Christmas. On January 6th, Sternsinger, or Star Singers, go from house to house singing traditional carols. They do this to ask for donations for different charities, both in Germany and around the world.
Like the rest of the world, Germans prepare special dishes at Christmas, such as:
- Stollen Cake, or Christollen, is typical German pastry made from yeast dough formed in an oval shape. It is sweet and is filled with dried fruit, nuts and marzipan, and sprinkled with sugar. It originated in the city of Dresden, originally created as a fast food during Advent.
- Gingerbread is a typical German dessert made of molasses, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. It is often made into cookies with traditional Christmas shapes, such as snowmen, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, bells and reindeer.
- Weihnachtsgans is a traditional German dish made from roasted goose flavored with apples, peaches, cabbage, and red wine. The dish is usually served with Gluhwein.
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