Every city has unique Christmas traditions. Whether it’s an evergreen or palm tree donning Christmas lights, cities across the country always add their flair to the holiday season.
For instance, while New Yorkers are gathering around a tree in Rockefeller Center, those in McAdenville, North Carolina, gather around a lake complete with a vibrantly-lit fountain in its center. Meanwhile, holiday-goers in Salt Creek Beach, California, are busy cheering for the annual Santa surf competition.
Traditions were even more diverse in early 19th century America when Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. Some communities observed it as an important Christian religious day; others simply celebrated with a huge feast.
That all changed in the mid-1800s when Americans saw Christmas less as a day for religious differences, and more for an important day for families and friends to spend time together. Traditions across American immigrants were combined, including the German tradition of putting lights, sweets, and toys on and under the branches of trees in their homes.
With Leckerlee's roots planted in Germany, we took a quick look at the differences between Christmas in Germany and the traditions we see today in the U.S.
Christmas in Germany
Known as Weihnachten, Christmas in Germany revolves heavily around the Christian season of Advent. Most homes make an “Advent Kranz,” a ring of fir branches with four candles, one lit at the beginning of each week before Christmas. Houses with young children have an Advent calendar with chocolates — or lebkuchen — for each day leading up to Christmas.
Similar to America, Christmas trees are traditional in Germany. Gifts are also exchanged, although it is the custom in Germany to open gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day. For German children, these gifts come from Sankt Nikolaus (Saint Nicholas).
German children write letters to Sankt Nikolaus early, hoping he’ll stop by on December 6 for St. Nicholas’s Day, where it is custom to place sweets in the children’s shoes. This is also the same day where “Krampus” arrives in some regions of Germany, a big-horned monster who accompanies Sankt Nikolaus and is meant to scare the naughty children.
Germany is also well-known for its Christmas markets. While common in major cities in the U.S., almost every German town will hold its own market to sell foods, gifts, and decorations.
Lebkuchen — The Sweetest German Tradition
Let’s not forget one of the oldest and sweetest German Christmas traditions — the holiday treat, lebkuchen. The centuries-old German Gingerbread is a Christmas tradition for both Germans and Americans. This holiday season, don’t forget to get yourself a gift and visit Lecklerlee’s website to order yourself this sweet tradition!