5 Facts About Christmas in Germany

Christmas in Germany is similar to Christmas in North America in many ways but there are some differences which I found rather surprising at first:

1st Fact About Christmas in Germany – Santa Clause Doesn’t Come at Christmas

I know what you’re thinking, oh those poor German children, but don’t feel too sorry for them, since while Santa Clause (Weihnachtsmann in German) may not come, Christkind (the Christ Child in English) is the gift bearer in Germany and throughout different parts of Europe. Christkind couldn’t look more different than Santa Claus though.  He is usually depicted as a child and angel-like with curly blond hair.  As with Santa Claus though, children never see Christkind in action (hopefully).  It also should be said that the Weihnactsmann is becoming increasing more common as the gift bearer in Germany,  much to the chagrin of some people as the above photo demonstrates translating as “We believe in the Christ Child, don’t give Santa Claus a chance.”

Christkind comes at Christmas time in Germany
One depiction of Christkind who makes an appearance every Christmas in Germany

#2. Christmas Comes Early

Children in North America would be so jealous of children in Germany if they knew they got their presents a whole 12 hours earlier.  Christkind comes in the early evening of Dec 24th and presents are opened that evening instead of waiting until the morning of the 25th.  It closely resembles Christmas morning in North America, but perhaps with fewer presents since many Germans are more practical with their spending and gift giving than many North Americans are.

#3. There is an Extra Christmas Holiday

Or more specifically St Nicholas Day (the famous saint on who Santa Claus is based)  and he comes very early – on December 6th and he may even make house calls in person!  When J.P. (my German husband) was very young he remembered St. Nicholas knocking on the door, then reading from his “Naughty or Nice” book, all the “naught and nice” things he had done that year.  He said he was afraid of St. Nicholas, but fortunately always made the “nice” list.  St. Nicholas is not nearly as generous as Christkind though usually only giving candy.

Christkind and Saint Nicholas
Christkind and Santa Clause, but there is a movement to keep Christkind as the gift giver and not the American Santa Claus as depicted in the top photo

#4. Turkeys are Safe in Germany

Many North Americans celebrate Christmas with a nice turkey dinner but you won’t find a turkey dinner in sight at a German Christmas Dinner.  A roast goose is the traditional  dish served along with some red cabbage, although wild boar may also be served in place of the roast goose.

#5.  There’s No (gasp) Snacking Nor Junk Food

Germans are not big snackers to begin with nor junk food eaters – generally speaking.  Not to worry though, you definitely won’t go hungry.  You will likely have three filling meals and coffee and cake in the afternoon. I feel this is worth mentioning since there will likely be no soda or chips in the house.  If you do watch a Christmas movie you will likely be watching it – not snacking away endlessly while doing it.  For the first time in many years I didn’t walk away bloated feeling like I had gained 5 pounds, so perhaps this should be the 6th thing to know about Christmas in Germany.

What else can you add?


  1. kerry says

    Im so glad to be German! even tho i grew up in USA, we still Do our German traditions! And we love german food and spending time with are family and close friends on Christmas! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas next week! 2012!! :)

  2. Sylvia says

    Hi, don’t agree about the Santa Clause story, I grew up with Santa Claus in Eastern Germany (GDR), Christkind is very old fashioned, my grandma used to talk about it, but we didnt grow up with it. Santa Claus came Christmas Eve… just wanted to share…

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