Advent calendars are one of the most beloved German Christmas traditions. Children and adults alike enjoy opening little Advent calendar doors every day of December. The most popular calendars are chocolate ones, however, self-made calendars with little presents, tea or chocolates are very common too and are a great gift to give to friends, partners or family members. Since they have gained more and more popularity not only in Germany but also abroad, you can now get the most unusual advent calendars; filled with treats for dogs and horses, “escape room” calendars with riddles or alcohol ones with beer, gin or whisky.
Saint Nicholas of Myra was an early christian bishop, who was ruling the town of Myra during the time of the Roman Empire. He is known for the many miracles he performed during his reign, and is nowadays still a patron saint of Russia, Croatia and Serbia. In Germany, Saint Nicholas comes around on the night before the 6th December and puts little presents such as chocolates, oranges and nuts in children’s shoes for them to find when they wake up on Saint Nicholas Day (Nikolaus).
This tradition is a creepy one. Krampus is a mythological creature that appears on the 6th December to punish children who have been bad and misbehaving throughout the year. He is usually accompanied by Saint Nicholas, his counterpart, who gives presents to the well-behaved children. Krampus only appears in certain regions of Bavaria and Austria and is feared by children and adults alike. These regions also let so-called “Krampus-parades” take place on 5th December, where people dress up as terrifying as possible to resemble Krampus, and parade through the streets, usually with bells and long sticks to scare children and residents. Although Krampus is only well-known in Southern Germany, the Alps and Austria, its horrifying appearance and the custom of him and Saint Nicholas visiting children together also caught the interest of people abroad; in the US for example, Krampus is now a popular theme for christmas horror films.
It is no secret that no country does christmas markets better than Germany. Wheather you would like to enjoy some traditional Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and mulled wine, the famous Dresden Stollen (striezel) or you prefer a vegan roast or chinese noodle soup, you have the choice! Germany has about 2000 christmas markets with more themes than you can imagine; the most popular ones are the Christkindlmarkt Nürnberg (Bavarians neither have the Weihnachtsmann nor the Weihnachtsmarkt, as they believe in the Christkind), Dresden’s Striezelmarkt– the oldest christmas market in Germany, and all of Berlin’s numerous and diverse christmas markets. My personal favorite is the Lübecker Weihnachtsmarkt because of its beautiful maritime atmosphere (and also because you can visit the Niederegger Marzipan Museum and enjoy all things marzipan!). For more information, please
In the UK you do Christmas wreaths, in Germany you do the Adventskranz; both are basically the same thing only that you don’t hang up your Adventskranz on your door like you would do it with a wreath, but you put four candles on in and light one each Advent. A well-known German nursery rhyme goes: “Advent Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt. Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.”