Christmas in Germany

How do I wish someone there a Happy Christmas?

  • Frohe Weihnachten!

When do they give presents?

  • After dinner on Christmas Eve.

Who brings the presents?

  • On Christmas Eve, das Christkind (the Christ child) places presents under the tree.

What’s on the menu?

  • All kinds of spiced cakes, cookies and gingerbread. This includes stollen, a fruit bread made with nuts and spices. Dinner on Christmas Eve is a simple dish of fish or sausages and potato salad. The big feast on Christmas Day is traditionally roast goose with all kinds of extras like potato dumplings and red cabbage.

Two people dressed as KrampusAny other traditions I should know about?

  • Christmas starts early on December 6, when children leave their shoes outside. This is so St Nikolaus can bring small presents. He’s helped by Knecht Ruprecht, who leaves bundles of twigs in naughty children’s shoes.
  • In some regions, the Krampus – a terrifying half-goat, half-demon - appears the day before St Nikolaus. So be careful on December 5 - especially in Bavaria, where parades of people dressed as the Krampus roam the streets looking for the badly behaved.
  • Some parents decorate a room and put the presents inside, before locking it up. It’s opened after the family attend Mass on Christmas Eve – which is also when the children get their presents.
  • On New Year’s Eve, German TV shows a short British cabaret sketch from the 1920s called ‘Dinner for One’. It revolves around a butler serving a woman dinner on her 90th birthday while also pretending to be her long-dead friends. The sketch is unheard of in Britain, but some Germans plan their New Year’s Eve celebrations around its broadcast.