German Christmas Traditions
Did you know that many of the Christmas customs and holiday traditions that we embrace today originated in Germany and Austria? From Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas to Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths, many of the beloved traditions of Christmas date back to historical customs from Europe. Following are some celebratory holiday customs that have a German background.
An advent calendar counts down the four weeks (day by day) leading up to Christmas. These cardboard calendars feature a calendar door that is opened each day, often revealing a small treat or piece of chocolate. While the advent season is historically religious, these calendars are more commercialized today as a festive countdown to the “big day”. The original Advent calendar originated in Germany; it had more of a religious focus that featured daily prayers leading up to the birth of Christ.
According to The History Channel, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles, if wood was scarce. In the mid 1800’s German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the tradition of the Christmas tree to America. By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the United States.
From Saint Nicholas to Kris Kringle to Santa Claus!
While most European countries have legends and traditions about a jolly, gift gifting character – all roads lead to the modern Santa Claus that children embrace today! Santa Claus seems to have originated in America sometime in the 18th century – but he was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. “Christkind” or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children.
Christmas Markets and Craft Fairs
During the holidays, many city centers in Germany host Christmas markets, (known as Weihnachtsmärkte). Holiday lights and decorations captivate locals and tourists alike, and entice them to stroll among the vendors of local arts and crafts and also plenty of food! Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany that invite visitors to enter the festive mood. Today many American cities have adopted this wonderful German tradition!
Sweet Holiday Treats
There are many traditional German inspired foods that are served during the holidays. Lebkuchen (gingerbread), chocolate Santas and various other Christmas confections all originated in Germany. The popular cake known as Christmas Stollen is considered one of the best Christmas pastries in the world! German Christmas cookies can also be found in many gourmet and specialty food stores as well as on some supermarket shelves.
Celebrate the Holidays at Bierhaus in Patchogue!
This holiday season, stop into Bierhhaus for a delicious German meal and some holiday cheer. Whether you are out shopping in the village of Patchogue and stop in for a seasonal brew on tap or you are planning a holiday dinner with family and friends, Bierhaus in Patchogue offers enticing food and refreshing cocktails to celebrate all of the holidays!
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