Every day this week, we will be looking at the yuletide traditions of a different country. Yesterday we read about the French customs of placing shoes beneath the tree on Christmas Eve, and hanging out mistletoe for good fortune. Today, Germany.
In the run up to Christmas, our German neighbours bake gingerbread houses and cookies, and hold famous Christmas markets at which Christmas figurines can be bought, der Glühwein, their mulled wine, can be drunk, and der Lebkuchen, ginger spice cookies,can be eaten. Der Adventskranz, an advent wreath of holly and four red candles, is lit every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas Eve. The 24th is spent with family, usually with parents and siblings, and gifts are given either (depending on whether they are Catholic or Protestant) by das Christkind, a winged figure in a white robe and crown, or by der Weihnachtsmann, a Santa Claus-like figure who comes bearing gifts. They then dine together but the big Christmas feast is saved for Christmas Day itself, in which duck or goose would be served. The 25th and 26th is then spent with each set of grandparents respectively.