If, like me, you have the attention span of a squirrel, the short version of this blog = Glühwein, Lebkuchen und Schnapps!
However, if you have a further interest in what Christmas is actually like in Germany (specifically, Bavaria) then read on!
Weihnachtsmarkt und Weihnachtsfeier
Our first experience with German Christmas happened on 7th December, when our town had its local Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). Our tiny town square filled itself with stalls selling Glühwein, Bratwurst, Laberkäse (mit sauerkraut, natürlich!), and Kartoffelspiralen along with some stalls selling homemade gifts and decorations.
Then the following evening, our flat building had its annual Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas Party), which involved more Glühwein and Laberkäse. It was the first time we got to meet a lot of our neighbours and was a lovely way to introduce ourselves. One elderly neighbour sidled up to me and, without saying a word, took 2 bottles of schnapps and some shot glasses from her handbag before pouring Zac and myself several shots. That is the kind of neighbour I like!
The following weekend, we headed to Augsburg Christkindlmarkt for some food and drink and to soak up the festive atmosphere. It was here that I tried Apfel-Punsch for the first time and was sold on it! We also got some sugared cashews and 1/2 metre long Bratwurst.
Christmas eve/day was a quiet affair for Zac and me, and due to money “issues”, we did not get each other presents. It was, however, wonderful to spend a Christmas not frantically running between the houses of 4 sets of parents and 3 sets of grandparents. For that, I am thankful!
Christmas Tree Praising!
Yep, it’s a thing.
Originating in Bavaria in the 19th Century, people walk around the houses of their family and friends and “praise” their Christmas tree by saying “Das ist ein schöner Weihnachtbaum.” In return, the host provides a shot of Schnapps.
Sadly, I did not partake in this because I was working, but I can tell you that Zac left our flat for his Christmas Tree Praising tour at 4 pm and returned home at 1 am, so that provides an idea of how they go!
Silvester is what the Germans call New Year’s Eve, owing to the 4th century Pope, Sylvester I. It then became associated with New Year’s Eve with the reform of the Gregorian calendar, when the last day of the year was fixed at December 31st.
Our friends hosted a party at their house, which involved a shot of schnapps the minute we entered the door, mini-pizzas, chocolate fondue and many, many beers and more schnapps!
Fireworks are a BIG deal in Germany! As soon as the clock struck 12, prosecco was handed round and the fireworks started, going off for almost 1 hour afterwards!
The Christmas season in Germany was quite possibly my favourite experience in this country so far.
I find it so fascinating, and very sweet, that most Germans (particularly Bavarians) still commit to old traditions. It was also wonderful that ALL shops close between 2-4 pm Christmas Eve, and do not open again until 27th December; over the New Year period, everything closes early on 31st December again and NOTHING opens until at least January 2nd. Christmas is truly a time to spend partying and, more importantly, resting.