Christmas in Germany
Traditions and Religious Activities
The Christmas Tree
Just like us Americans, Germans have many of the same traditions we do. Every year they set up a Christmas tree, or Tannenbaum. Unlike us, they set up their trees the day before Christmas. Germans also decorate their trees with different ornaments, such as nuts, candy, and other sweets, as well as candles. Children are allowed to take treats off the tree and eat them on Christmas Day.
The Advent Wreath
The Advent Wreath is a wreath that consists of four candles, each one is lit up every Sunday leading up to Christmas. Each candle represents one week of Advent. Three of the candles are purple, while the fourth candle is a rose color. The purple candles represent prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices. The rose colored candle is lit on the third Sunday, also known as Gaudete Sunday, which is also when the priest wears a rose colored garments during mass.
The Advent Calendar
The Advent Calendar is a German calendar that counts down the days till Christmas. During the weeks of the Advent Calendar, families will be attending festivals where they will celebrate by eating and drinking.
German Zimsterne With Almonds
- 500g of ground almonds
- 5 egg whites
- 450g of icing sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 dessert spoon of cherry water
Beat the egg whites until stiff and then carefully fold in the sieved icing sugar. Reserve about 4-heaped tablespoons of the egg white mixture as this will be used for the cookie topping later on.
Add the ground almonds, cinnamon and cherry water (you can replace with lemon juice if preferred) to the egg white mixture and mix well. Cover the dough and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.
Now, sit down and relax with a nice cup of coffee.
Sprinkle your work surface or board with some sugar and roll out the dough to about 1cm thick. Now cut out stars with your star shaped cookie cutter and place them on a baking sheet.
You will now need the reserved meringue from earlier. Stir it so it becomes a smooth mix. Now brush the cookies with the topping. Leave the cookies to dry overnight at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Check the time, as the cookies should remain soft inside and the topping white!
Store the cookies in an airtight tin.
- 4 -6 lbs pork shoulder or 4 -6 lbs pork butt
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup water or 1/2 cup stock or 1/2 cup white wine or 1/2 cup beer
- 2 -3 tablespoons flour
- 2 -3 tablespoons butter
1kg pork shoulder with rind. Wash the meat thoroughly, dry and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Rub the salt and pepper well into the meat. Score the pork rind with a sharp knife.
Pour water in a roasting tray to a depth of 2cm. Then place the meat, rind down, into the roasting tray. Slice two medium sized onions (with the skin on) into 1/2cm thick rings. Slice 3 garlic cloves and place over the meat. Sprinkle 2 dessertspoons of caraway seeds over the meat.
Place in a preheated oven at 250 degrees C for half an hour. Then turn the meat over, rind facing up and baste.
It is important to loosen the crust away from the meat and do not baste with too much broth at one time. Baste little and often.
Cook for another hour and a half. Near the end of the cooking time brush the crispy rind with cold dark beer or cold water. This will ensure crispy crackling. The sauce must be brown and clear. Never thicken with flour or corn flour.
German winters are often very cold, with temperatures as low as below zero which results in some great winter sport areas in Germany, especially in northern parts of Germany such as the Bavarain Alps. Other parts of Germany are often blessed with a white Christmas as well, but there is still a chance that there will be no snow. In December they usually have an Average low of 27 degrees F and an average high of 41 degrees F.
Christmas Music in Germany
Most German music is religious and contain no vocals, but instruments that would mostly be used in a church, such as an organ.
In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger on Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, holding gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann, or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts. They have Christmas tress in houses and plenty of Christmas decorations on the street so it is relatively close to the Christmas we have in America. Christkind, who is the Christ child’s messenger is a beautiful fair haired girl with a crown of candles and visits each house with baskets of presents. On Christmas Eve, children will get their clean shoes and put them on the front porch, the next morning the shoes would be filled with all kinds of treats.