Experience Delightful German Christmas Traditions at Home

Lydia Fulson - author

by: Lydia Fulson  /  Writer, Artist, Traveler, Granddaughter & Ever-Learning German Cook

Looking for the perfect dessert to serve the family for holidays? Perhaps those scrumptious Weihnachten cookies that your Mutti used to make, remember?

Those ones that were so mouth-watering that you just HAD to sneak some off the tray before they were even finished baking.  

Below are German Christmas recipes and other holiday recipes to make celebrating "Christmas in Germany" a possibility, no matter where you are in the world.

The beautiful snow-covered streets in Germany

What is Christmas like in Germany? 

Celebrating Christmas in Germany is such a feast for your senses. Every part of your being is affected - from the sights to behold, the scents to savour, and the tastes to enjoy. Your spirit is renewed in the reason for the season, and your body is enveloped by the pleasures that only Christmas can fulfill.

What a spectacular time of the year it is! Breathtaking, yummy, and full of festive fun! 

Here's a glimpse of the "cookie-cutter" homes lining the streets, covered in the shimmering snow

The streets in Germany are full of these gorgeously structured homes, showing jagged angles and authentic architecture. Now just imagine seeing these exquisite, and opulent homes with a glistening blanket of snow overtop. 

Walking through a German village decorated for Weihnachten (Christmas) is amazing. The houses look like traditional gingerbread houses. So very picturesque and pristine, almost looking as if they were molded by cookie cutters themselves. 

The Christmas Market

The Christmas Markets in Germany are very traditional, and are well-stocked with all kinds of German Christmas foods as well as wood carvings and decorations for the Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree).

The market is a wondrous place to bring your family, your tiny tots, for an evening of holiday joy and excitement. Packed full to the brim of German Christmas Traditions, including the eminent Nuremberg bratwurst sausage! The perfect place to purchase your ornamental pyramids, and Weihnachtsbaum decorations. 

The Weihnachten market in Nuremberg, is seen as the most famous city market in all of Germany. It takes place every single year during advent, in the old town square. It truly is a sight to see.

The famous bustling Nuremberg market!

Traditional Christmas Advent Decorations 

Everyone has their own traditions leading up to Christmas Day, whether it's opening gifts on Christmas Eve, singing carols by the warm glow of the fireplace, or simply stringing colorful lights on a beautiful gleaming tree. 

But did you know that many of the traditions celebrated all around the world to this day originated from Germany? 

Here are some of the most popular German Advent Traditions and decorations!


The Advent calendar is a real treat for kids. With 24 numbers on little doors that get opened according to the date, it’s an easy way for children to count down the days until Christmas Eve.

Behind each little door is usually a picture of a toy. The newer Advent calendars are much more enjoyable - chocolates are behind each door! So much fun for the little ones!


It's also time to either make or buy an Advent wreath, aka Adventskranz. This is made of evergreen twigs and decorated with pine cones, little red mushrooms, and ribbons.

There are four candles: the first one is lit on the last Sunday in November, and then another candle on each successive Sunday before Christmas.

In the photo below, Oma's Mutti (second on the left) and her Mutti and sisters are sitting around an Adventskranz, the centerpiece for their Christmas coffee. (Wish I knew what delicious German Christmas recipes are displayed on the table.) The purpose for Advent? To prepare for the coming of Jesus.

Here are my Mutti, her Mutti and her sisters sitting around an Adventskranz, their coffee time centerpiece

Weihnachtsbaum Decorations

Here are some of the most popular Christmas Tree decorations that are very well known in Germany and all around the world. Maybe you recognize some of these decorations from your childhood and use them still today! 

The Christmas Pickle 

Perhaps you have heard of this weird German tradition of hiding a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree, and you wonder, is this REALLY German?

No, it is NOT a German tradition. Though, it is a fun activity that many families enjoy. 

The parent hides a pickle-shaped ornament in the Christmas tree and calls the children into the room to search for it. The first child to find the pickle, gets one extra gift.

This may sound a bit peculiar, but it really does excite the little ones, filling their faces with glowing delight as they race to earn that extra present.

Get ready for Christmas! Grab your copy of Oma's collection of her favorites in Christmas Cookies e-Cookbook.

Take a look at Oma’s Christmas Cookies eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine this Christmas.

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

Decorating Trees with Tinsel 

Did you know that wrapping your Christmas tree with shining tinsel is a tradition that originally came from Germany in the 1600's? 

It is certainly a beautiful tradition that has carried on for hundreds of years. Adding a lovely glow, and bright fun to your tree.

Here's a fun fact you may not have known about tinsel: 

Though nowadays tinsel is made from foil pieces strung together, back in the 1600-1700's it was always made from real silver. 

Gingerbread ornaments 

These beautiful handcrafted gingerbread looking ornaments are a great gift for the holidays.

With hundreds of different quotes and special sayings written on them, you can make it a very personalized and meaningful gift. 

You can find hundreds upon hundreds of these lovely decorations at the German Christmas Markets, which were mentioned above.

Some more popular German Christmas Decorations

Perhaps you've heard of these decorations or even collect a few. 

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is incredibly well known today and is often used simply as a cute table decoration for Christmas.

In 1872, the first commercial Nutcracker was created in Germany. To this day, many are still produced in Germany and can be found in just about every home for the holidays. 

Some people find them to be a little creepy, while others find them quite functional and collectible. What do you think of the Nutcracker? 

The German Christmas Pyramid

In many homes across Germany, you would find a small twirling carousel standing near the tree. This magnificent decoration is known as the Christmas Pyramid.  

The Pyramid is a tall standing ornament with many angels among it, as well as a nativity scene (Weihnachtskrippe) and candles surrounding the base. It would not be uncommon to see some of these pyramids with propellers on the very top, which would spin with the help of the rising heat from the candles.

It is tradition in quite a few cities in Germany to place a giant pyramid in the center of town, as seen below. 

The German Christmas Pyramid, a tall standing ornament surrounded by angels

Leading up to Christmas Eve...

On the days leading up to Christmas Eve in Germany, there are many traditions and special events that occur.

Events that bring joy and excitement to the tiny tots. Lighting up that eagerness in their eyes for Christmas Day to come sooner!

Here are some of the popular traditions leading up to Christmas Eve.

St. Nicholas Day

Another way of celebrating Christmas in Germany happens on December 6th. The night before, children put their shoes (the largest they can find) at their bedside.

The next morning, thanks to Saint Nicholas (St. Nick), the shoes are filled with all kinds of delicious treats, usually edible, but sometimes little toys as well. (Is this where the idea of the American Christmas stocking comes from?)

Weihnachtsabend (December 24)

The last preparation for Christmas is the Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree). Put up the morning of the 24th, it's decorated with nuts, cookies, apples, tinsel, and real candles. The room with the tree was kept out of sight from the children.

After the Christmas Eve Church service, the candles (lights) are lit. A bell is rung.

The children are finally allowed to enter into the room to behold the tree ... and the presents hidden underneath!

Old-fashioned German Christmas Celebration. ❤️Click on to get recipes and more!My Uncle Eran getting ready to open his presents. On the table is Oma's Advent wreath.

The room is filled with all kinds of fragrances. Plates of Christmas cookies, marzipan, chocolates, and Christmas stollen are accompanied with bowls of fruits.

German Christmas Foods and Treats

Let's take a glimpse at the delicious German Christmas foods, including meals, and popular desserts for the holiday season. 

Just looking at these eye-catching dishes and delicacies makes my tummy rumble!

There are many traditional German foods that are enjoyed around the holidays, all extraordinarily yummy! Perhaps you remember these tasteful treats.

Roast Duck Dinner 

The traditional German dinner often consists of duck, roast, bread dumplings, potato dumplings and red cabbage.

I'm sure you have all had that stuffing made from bread crumbs and vegetable cubes. Well in Germany, the stuffing is made from apple and sausage. Boy is it ever yummy!

You know how we Germans are, making dishes so unique, original and different. We sure know how to get adventurous in the kitchen, and the results are always outstanding!

Celebrate Christmas ... German-style

When it's time for Christmas, baking is at the forefront of preparations. Get Oma's collection of her favorites in Christmas Baking eCookbook

Take a look at Oma’s Christmas Baking eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine!

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

Christmas Stollen

This delicious main course would be accompanied by the famous German Stollen, a sweet delicacy all over the country around Christmas time.

Stollen is a type of cake stuffed full with candied fruits and nuts, similar to the well-known fruitcake. This famous dessert is traditionally dusted with a thick layer of powdered sugar to create a “blanket of snow” effect. 

Some like to give the shape of the cake tapered, rough edges to symbolize Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloth.

The Gingerbread House

There's always a Gingerbread House to nibble on, a traditional treat that is reminiscent of the Hansel and Gretel Fairy Tale.

Oma's came in many shapes and themes. Unlike the modern gingerbread houses, hers were always solid cake. Not just a shell held together with icing.

Old-fashioned German Christmas Gingerbread House.One of Oma's very first gingerbread houses she made for her boys. It was a solid slab of gingerbread that she then decorated. She recalls the boys had fun un-decorating it and eating the whole thing!

Oma made forts. She made winter scenes. She made zoos. I wish she had made photos of them all.  Above is the only photo she had of one of the first gingerbread houses she made. Now, the rest are just memories! What she does recall is that they were fun to make and fun to eat!

In fact, there are so many memories of the flavors of Christmas, whenever she starts to bake, she's transported back into the kitchen with her Mutti! What fun they all had making all the Christmas goodies. 

Traditional German Christmas Songs 

There are so many favourites when it comes to Christmas carols, they can be heard everywhere around this time. From the busiest of supermarkets, to the smallest of living rooms.

Children absolutely love singing carols! In the towns of Germany, it is tradition to have a night where families would gather and enjoy each others company as they pour their hearts out in celebration holiday song. 

Here are some of the most popular and traditional Weihnachten songs sung in Germany. See if you recognize these, and share the songs with your friends and family to reminisce about the good old days! You might even learn a new one!

  • Kling, Glöckchen (Ring, Little Bell) - A children's Christmas carol, that dates back to the 19th century. Very popular! 
  • Stille Nacht (Silent Night) - First sung in Austria in 1818! Everyone loves this beautiful song! 
  • Es wird scho glei dumpa (It will soon be dark) - Often sung as a children's Christmas lullaby
  • O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree) - A true classic! 
  • In Dulci Jubilo  - A poetic and joyful Christmas carol!

Enjoy the above German Christmas Baking recipes for your dessert table as you are celebrating Christmas in Germany wherever you are in the world.

Frohe Weihnachten!

Share Your German Christmas Memories

Do you have memories of celebrating Christmas in Germany?
Or perhaps you or your parents brought their German traditions with them, and you celebrated a German Christmas in other parts of the world.

Share your memories including the FOOD!

Read Other Visitors' Christmas Memories

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Pelznickel Visitation 
My husband's family has lived in the USA for five generations, but here in Frankenmuth many old traditions are still celebrated as the seasons pass. …

German Christmas Memories 
Baking cookies with my mom with Heino singing Alle Jahre Wieder on the stereo. The other thing that reminds me of Germany is the smell of tangerines. We …

"Christmas in Austria"  
I am from a family of ten children. We had no gifts, but we did have beautiful Christmas tree, which my Dad decorated behind the closed door. My Mom …

24. Dezember 
Hallo, endlich einmal die deutschen Weihnachtsbräuche richtig erklärt, (denn in keinem deutschen Baum hängt eine Gurke wie so oft behauptet), danke dafür.Noch …

"A German Christmas in Colorado, New Mexico and Germany" 
I was born in Colorado and moved to New Mexico. My parents are both German and my first husband was half Black German. We were stationed in Germany for …

Growing up With a German Christmas in Belding MI 
My favorite memory of our "German" Christmas is helping my dad decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. After the tree was decorated we would open …

Christmas Memories of Grandmama 
My grandmama immigrated from Germany and I have such wonderful memories of Christmas with her. It's my favorite, because it is the only one I know. Every …

Christmas Baking - Helen's Koenigskuchen 
Koenigskuchen (King's Cake) is a traditional German Christmas cake recipe I like to make this time of year. Although the original Koenigskuchen recipe …

German Christmas Memories of Saint Nicholas 
One German Christmas memory that comes to mind is when I was very young. On Saint Nicholas Day, December 6 , I would wake up to find sweet treats in my …

Oma's trays  Not rated yet
My Oma and Opa did all the traditions above, plus the special trays. They were paper trays decorated in Christmas themes and were handed out on Christmas …

Winter evenings in Trier Not rated yet
I loved to wander thru Trier in the winter evenings when all was quiet. Usually, on Friday nights around Christmas, there would be a small band playing …

Christmas in Darmstadt Not rated yet
I'm American but lived several years in Germany. I love the German Christmas traditions! For instance celebrating a 1st and 2nd Christmas day and celebrating …

A German tradition from my childhood Not rated yet
My Oma every Christmas would give each child a buntatella. Filled with homemade cookies, candy,oranges and pomegranates. It was always a gift to look …

"Oh Mom, We have to make German mac N cheese. I had it in German class today."  Not rated yet
My 14 year old boy is taking German in high school. The have started a German Club. At the second meeting the kids brought gingerbread house kits to make. …

Our family Christmas from Germany to USA Not rated yet
My mother was from Munchen and with her came all the traditions of Christmas and so beautiful. Some of the food was knodels which is our family tradition …

Christmas in Germany  Not rated yet
I remember the times when we was kids and we ways went to church on December 24th. When we came home, we had a good meal, most times turkey dinner sometimes …

Christmas at Oma's in Heidelberg Not rated yet
As a little girl Christmas was so magical. It was early 50's and the mystery of the hushed whispers of the adults and the room with the locked door that …

Christmas in New York with my German parents as a child Not rated yet
My story is the same as yours. I have two brothers and my mother every Christmas would have a cookie plate for each one of us. In the cookie plate were …

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Try this delicious roast duck recipe for the holidays!
Here are my Mutti, her Mutti and her sisters sitting around an Adventskranz

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