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The Christmas tree - O Tannenbaum, O Christmas Tree...

The custom of decorating rooms with evergreen twigs and branches goes back 600 years. This tradition later developed into Advent wreaths and decorated Christmas trees hung from the ceiling. It was not until the 17th century that Christmas trees were set up as they are today and decorated with homemade cookies, gingerbread, rosy red apples and tissue paper roses. Since then Christmas trees have been decorated in ever more creative ways. In Germany they are often adorned with candles and laden with mouth-blown glass baubles and bells, intricate carved wooden decorations, golden angels, sweets, tiny gifts, tinsel, angel hair and craft items. Setting up and decorating the tree is a delight for children and adults alike - a work of art to admire in the soft glow of candlelight.


Magical Advent - Time-honoured traditions and a sense of expectation

Advent - the four weeks before Christmas - is the most atmospheric season everywhere in Germany. Age-old customs are celebrated and enriched by new, vibrant ideas year after year. During Advent there is a wonderful sense of expectation in the air. On each of the 24 days before Christmas, children and many adults excitedly open a window on their Advent calendar or the next in a series of small, numbered gifts. Many buildings, especially town halls at the heart of the festivities, are transformed into giant "Advent calendars". Each Sunday in Advent another candle is lit on the Advent wreath in people's homes. Hand-carved Christmas pyramids from the Erzgebirge mountains twirl in the candlelight, windows are lit by decorative Christmas arches and garden trees are adorned with illuminations. Angels and Father Christmases appear, shop windows in towns and city centres look simply stunning and illuminated Christmas trees can be seen everywhere you look. Christmas trees are also lovingly decorated in people's homes in preparation for the celebrations. Experience the magic of Advent in Germany - a festive atmosphere and wonderful customs.


Delicious Christmas recipes

The festive season in Germany is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy delicious food and drink. All year, children and adults will have been looking forward to all kinds of special treats. Mouth-watering aromas surround the festive stalls at the Christmas markets; shops and bakeries are laden with gingerbread, biscuits, stollen cake, Father Christmases, marzipan potatoes, chestnuts and much more. Many people bake Christmas biscuits and stollen cake at home. Popular ideas are cinnamon stars, macaroons, butter cookies, spritz cookies and regional specialities such as Printen gingerbread from Aachen, Bethmännchen marzipan biscuits from Frankfurt, Stollen cake from Dresden and Lebkuchen gingerbread from Nuremberg. Restaurant menus, particularly in southern Germany, feature crispy Christmas goose with red cabbage and potato dumplings, while carp is particularly popular in northern Germany. Tasty baked apples are a traditional Christmas dessert. And don't miss glühwein and punch - the perfect winter warmers. Enjoying mouth-watering delicacies is an essential part of visiting Germany's romantic Christmas markets. You can also bake your own special treats back home with these tasty recipes. Guten Appetit!


The advent wreath - Advent, advent, a candles is lit...

Johann Hinrich Wichern, a Hamburg theologian, first had this idea in the 19th century. He decorated his chandelier with evergreens and placed 24 candles on top - one for each day in December until Christmas Eve. An Advent wreath with 4 candles, one for each Sunday of Advent, was first hung in a church in Cologne in 1925, then Munich also adopted the practice. 10 years later, wreaths decorated with fir, spruce and moss became popular in domestic kitchens and living rooms, where they create a homely atmosphere. The scented, green needles and the candlelight are symbols of a new, brighter time.


The advent calendar - Count the days until christmas

The Advent calendar has been around since 1851. In those days families made their own, and people are still coming up with an endless variety of different designs today. The printed version has been around since 1902. Each day, from 1 to 24 December, you can open a window. Behind it is a picture, a chocolate or some other surprise. In many towns and cities in Germany, the town hall is transformed into a giant Advent calendar. On each of the 24 days, a festively lit window is opened to reveal a magnificent, decorative picture painted by artists or school children.


The nativity scene - Baby Jesus is born

Nativity scenes are part of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. Baby Jesus is believed to have been born in a stable in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. Churches have used Nativity scenes to recall the birth of Jesus since the 12th century, a tradition later taken up by families. Baby Jesus lies in the straw in the manger with his parents Mary and Joseph kneeling beside him. Also part of the scene are an ox, a donkey, shepherds with their sheep and the Three Wise Men bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. Germany has an almost endless variety of Nativity scenes with beautifully carved figures - and Nativity scene trails - which can be admired from the beginning of December until 6 January.