Weihnachten in Germany
The Christmas season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas with the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath, decorated with four candles. It signifies the 4ooo years that the world had to wait before the birth of Christ. Every evening people gather around the wreath and one of the children is allowed to light the candle. The songs are filled with longing for the birth of the promised Messiah, and the mood is both somber and festive.
On the 6th of December, St. Nickolaus comes to bring the children baskets filled with goodies, such as fruits, nuts and candies. Children have to give an account of their behaviour for the year and if they were good, St. Nickolaus rewards them. Every Sunday till Christmas Eve another candle is lit and the anticipation grows.
A few days before Christmas, the German Hausfrau (homemaker) starts cleaning and preparing the home. A tree is selected and placed in the livingroom. Usually the doors to the living room are locked and the children are not allowed in until the Bescherung (giving of gifts) on Christmas Eve, which is called Heiliger Abend (Holy night). When it gets dark, the candles are lit on the tree and everybody gathers around the tree to sing Christmas songs and read the story of the birth of Christ Jesus (the Christkind). After that, the exchange of presents takes place. At Midnight many people gather in their church to celebrate the Midnight Mass or Christmas celebration.
On Christmas day, Germans like to eat Christmas goose (Weihnachtsgans) with potato balls (dumplings) and red cabbage. Families visit one another and the mood is very festive. Germans celebrate on the 25th and the 26th of December.
On the 6th of January, the three Kings came to visit the Baby Jesus and it is another holiday in Germany. Christmas is a very special time, filled with beautiful music, delicious foods, and many traditions. Most of all it is the celebration of the birth of Christ.