Christmas in Germany: A Cultural Deep Dive into the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As September rolls around in Germany, the festive spirit begins to make an early appearance. Shelves in stores start to transform, filling with Christmas goodies and signaling the start of the most magical time of the year. In this blog, we will delve into the heartwarming world of German Christmas traditions, exploring everything from the beautifully crafted decorations and intricate crafts, to the charming Christmas markets that pop up across the country. And, of course, we cannot forget about the delicious cookies and food that make the holiday season in Germany truly special.

german christmas traditions youfoundtanja advent crown

Advent Wreath

In anticipation of Christmas, another cherished German tradition has emerged: the advent wreath. This festive wreath is typically made of evergreen branches and is adorned with four candles.

On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, a candle is lit to mark the passage of time. The first candle is illuminated on the 1st Advent Sunday, followed by the lighting of the second candle on the 2nd Advent Sunday. The third candle is then lit on the 3rd Advent Sunday, with the fourth and final candle being illuminated on the last Sunday before Christmas. The lighting of the advent wreath candles is a symbolic way to prepare for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth and brings a sense of warmth and light to the winter season.

Advent Calendar

Another beloved German tradition to count down the days until Christmas is the advent calendar. This calendar comes in many forms, such as small bags or boxes, each labelled with numbers 1 through 24, symbolizing the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Inside each bag or box, you’ll find a small gift to enjoy before the holiday arrives.

With the advent of technology, digital versions of advent calendars have also emerged. For example, some television programs feature a special Christmas series, revealing one episode each day for a total of 24 episodes.

For those who are feeling creative, making your own advent calendar is a wonderful way to add a personal touch to the holiday season. There are no set rules, just the need for 24 boxes, bags, or any other containers to fill with gifts. Besides small presents, you could also fill your calendar with 24 date ideas written on individual pieces of paper for your significant other. Another idea is to include 24 inspirational quotes or messages to spread holiday cheer and positivity to your loved ones.

Advent calendar german christmas tradition youfoundtanja
christmas market german christmas traditions youfoundtanja

Christmas Markets

By the time the first Advent Sunday arrives, Christmas markets begin to spring up all across Germany, turning cities and towns into festive wonderlands. In some places, you can even find multiple markets taking place at the same time, each drawing in thousands of daily visitors. While these Christmas-themed street markets have gained worldwide popularity, they actually have their roots in Germany, where they first emerged during the late Middle Ages.

At a Christmas market, you can browse stalls filled with handcrafted gifts and decorations, and savour the flavours of holiday treats like gingerbread and mulled wine. With so many markets to choose from, you can even go Christmas market hopping, experiencing the unique atmosphere and offerings of each one, and truly soaking in the holiday spirit.

Germany is home to many beautiful Christmas markets, and one of the most noteworthy is in Dresden. If you’re interested in exploring this festive market, GetYourGuide has you covered with a variety of guided tours to choose from!

Glühwein German muled wine german christmas traditions youfoundtanja


One beloved tradition closely associated with Christmas markets and the Advent season is the enjoyment of Glühwein, a type of mulled wine that is infused with warming spices such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. While traditionally made with dry red wine, a variety of Glühwein has emerged in recent years that utilizes different types of fruit wines.

Though Glühwein is a staple at Christmas markets, you don’t need to attend one to savor this festive beverage. Instead, you can easily prepare your own Glühwein at home, filling your space with its aromatic spices and adding an extra layer of coziness to your holiday celebrations. To make the experience even more authentic, consider serving your homemade Glühwein in festive mugs or glasses and pairing it with traditional Christmas treats.

glühwein german mulled wine recipe youfoundtanja

Christmas Baking

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s a common and cherished tradition for Germans to bake Christmas cookies, a practice that’s particularly popular among families with children. This tradition is so integral to German Christmas celebrations that it even inspired a song, „Weihnachtsbäckerei“ (Christmas Bakery). You can listen to it on YouTube to really get into the festive spirit!

One of the most iconic treats baked during this time is Lebkuchen, a gingerbread-like speciality that’s often shaped into various forms and then decorated with icing, dedications, or Christmas wishes. Alternatively, you can use Lebkuchen to construct a delightful gingerbread house!

Other delightful Christmas specialities you might consider baking include Spekulatius (a spiced shortcrust biscuit), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), and Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies). Each of these treats adds its own unique flavour to the holiday season, contributing to the warmth and joy that fills German homes during this special time of year.

weihnachtsbäckerei german christmas traditions baking cookies youfoundtanja
German Traditions Christmas youfoundtanja

Christmas Tree

Today, the Christmas tree is a central element of Christmas celebrations worldwide, but did you know that the tradition of decorating an evergreen tree for Christmas originated in Germany during the 16th century?

The tradition of the Christmas tree spread throughout Germany and eventually to other parts of Europe and the world. Nowadays, Christmas trees are decorated with lights, ornaments, and tinsel, and they stand as a symbol of the holiday season, bringing joy and festivity to homes and public spaces alike.

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I aim to be transparent and always ensure that all opinions expressed here are my own. Have a wonderful Christmas Time! 🎄❤️