How German Christmas Influenced Our Holiday Season
The German Christmas has had more influence on our present-day Christmas than any other. With so many Christmas legends and myths floating around, this one piece of Christmas history remains unchallenged.
German Christmas Markets
Each year, people from all over the world travel to Germany to experience the delights of a German Christmas at its famous Christmas markets. From Germany's blown-glass ornaments to its authentic gingerbread houses, to its German Christmas trees covered in candles, there are few other places where one can soak in the Christmas spirit and enjoy an old-fashioned German Christmas.
German Christmas Trees
While much of the world uses electric lights to illuminate its Christmas trees, you can still find German homes that use traditional candles to light up their German Christmas trees. These trees are usually not lit until Christmas Eve at midnight.
Much of Christmas tree history, in fact, credits Germany for either starting the traditions or perfecting them. The German Christmas trees in the 1600s were decorated with colored paper, small toys, food, and candles. Later, tinsel, silver wire ornaments, candles and small beads became common German Christmas tree decorations. The custom was to have several small German Christmas trees on tables, one for each family member, with each person's gifts stacked on the table underneath. There is little question that the German Christmas traditions originated and popularized the use of the Christmas tree. The earliest written record of an evergreen tree being decorated for Christmas is 1521 in the German region of Alsace, which had a forest ordinance saying that no one "shall have for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight shoes' length." German families would set up their German Christmas trees in prominent locations in their homes and decorate them. As the German people immigrated to other countries, they took their tradition with them. By the 1700s, the German Christbaum, or "Christ tree," had spread to other parts of Europe, and the German Christmas tree tradition eventually made its way to the United States.
German Christmas Carols
Carols, of course, are a big part of the German Christmas. Those carols are sung all around the world. Two favorite German Christmas carols are, "Silent Night" and "O Christmas Tree."
Other German Christmas Traditions
Kriss Kringle comes to us from the German Christmas gift giver, Christkindel, which in German means Christ Child. In the seventeenth century, Christkindel became known as the gift-bringer. The German Christmas tradition of Christkindel was brought to America by immigrants and over time the name was transformed into Kriss Kringle. The Kriss Kringle Book, published in 1842, reminded American people of their very familiar gift-giver, and thus Kriss Kringle became synonymous with Santa Claus.
German Christmas Today
The German Christmas season is lengthy. It starts on St. Andrew's Night on November 30 and winds down on January 13, the Octave of Epiphany, allowing people plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful German Christmas traditions.
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