Christmas begins early in Germany. On the night of December 5th-6th, St. Nicholas Day (Nikolaustag), children leave their shoes or boots outside the front door. That night, Santa Claus, (Nikolaus), visits and fills them with chocolates, oranges and different kinds of nuts if they have behaved. Nikolaus also has a sidekick, his servant Knecht Ruprecht, who leaves bundles of twigs in the shoes or boots of the children who have misbehaved and are recorded in his ‘black book.”
Nikolaus and Knecht Ruprecht
Shoes Filled With Presents
In some parts of Germany, it is believed the Christ Child (das Christkind) sends on Christmas Eve an angel in a white robe and crown to give gifts. There's also a figure called der Weihnachtsmann, who looks like Santa Claus; and also brings presents.
Der Weihnachtsmann and Das Christkind
In some homes in Germany, it is customary for parents to prepare a room for Christmas and then lock it up. This delightful event, for many families, takes place on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. This is before attending mass at 4 p.m. They return home at 6pm to eat, read the Christmas story and then open their presents. When it is time to enter the room, a bell is rung as a signal for children to enter, where they will find the tree lit up with presents underneath it. There is also fruit, different kinds of nuts, marzipan, empire biscuits, and chocolates to eat. Carols are sung, the Christmas story is read, and children open their presents.
Germans often have baking evenings for making spiced cakes, cookies and gingerbread houses. The German Christmas tree pastry, das Christbaumgebäck, “is a white dough which is molded into shapes and baked to make tree decorations.”
On Christmas Eve, there is an evening feast, usually of carp and potato salad, since meat is avoided for religious reasons.
Carp and Potato Salad
On Christmas Day the family can eat from a variety of foods including pork, roasted goose, white sausage and macaroni salad. Regional dishes include: der Christstollen; long loaves of bread with nuts, raisins, lemon and dried fruit; der dresdner stollen, a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit and marzipan, and der lebkuchen, ginger spice cookies.
Der Dresdner Stollen
For more information, please visit: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees
Check back the week of May 3rd for another blog on a holiday and related foods!
A German Christmas. BBC. (2014). The British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 16, 2015.