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December 24 - 25 2024

Christmas decorative glass balls
© DeiaGreg/Amazing Capitals

Celebrating Christmas in Düsseldorf and across Germany is only slightly different than in other European countries. December 24 is the most important date, followed by December 25 and 26, which are official holidays in Germany.

The evening of December 24 is the major day of celebration and togetherness, traditionally reserved for family gatherings that can be rather solemn. Eating together and exchanging gifts next to the Christmas tree are the highlights of the Christmas festivities, while activities such as reciting poems or singing songs have also widespread. Presents are generally distributed on this day.

Partying is less widespread on that day than in anglophile countries and tends to be reserved for December 25 or 26 as the time to enjoy being with more distant family or friends. Going to church and practising religious rituals is not so common nowadays due to modern attitudes and a steady increase of secularisation in German society. Regional traditions have been preserved mostly in rural communities. Mass media and commerce naturally have a deep impact on Christmas celebrations in the cities, similar to all urban areas of the western influenced world.

Local and Distant Traditions

Many rituals mark the Christmastime period. For example Advent wreaths with four candles, Adventskranz, which are progressively lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas Eve. A skill that many locals learn in their early years. A type of Christmas cake, Stollen, and gingerbread houses can also be baked for days on end among families. 

Most children and some adults believe that busy Santa Claus visits Germany too while circling the globe. Just like the Finns, many Germans believe that Saint Nick lives way up there in snowy Lapland in his untranslatable Korvatunturi. So too do most postal services around the world that deliver tons of letters penned in all manner of languages to Cris Crigle. Some North Americans beg to disagree. That rather rotund and cheerful gent with a long white beard in his bright red robe is the official Mr Christmas and definitely from the US.

Germans are renowned for presenting the festive season with a terrific tradition of Christmas markets, Weihnachtsmärkte. They can be found all across the country for a month or more during the time before and occasionally after Christmas. The Christmas tree is said to have been popularised in the country too. Martin Luther of reformation fame was rumoured to have been impressed by twinkling stars above the pine trees on a starry night. Thus trees decorated with candles became popular to recreate the sensation at home. Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria popularised the Christmas tree in Britain during the mid nineteenth century. From there, it was a small step to North America and the rest is history.

Farther afield millions of families in dozens of countries enjoy their Christmas day turkey meal. Others traditionally eat lamb, prawns or carp and other delicacies. For many expats spending Christmas in their new home abroad, simply obtaining eggnog, cinnamon or mince pies can bring the greatest pleasure during the festive season. Thankfully the globalised world, quick deliveries and a host of delicious online recipes enable indulgence here too.

By Vincent Green, Jan 3 2022


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Happenings vary from celebrations, marking an opening or anniversary to a market or one-off concerts and activities. Information for the expat community to acquire an insight on such unique events and gatherings large or small.

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Amazing Capitals Neuss is full of insights for international residents. It is dedicated to helping internationals make choices, settle and participate. Enjoy the city!

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