Many of our Christmas customs come from Germany,such as Christmas
trees, wreaths, Advent calendars, and gingerbread houses. Christmas
is the biggest and most important holiday in Germany, and the season,
with its many celebrations, lasts more than a month.
The tannenbaum, or Christmas
tree, came from Germany. Legend has it that Martin Luther saw a
little pine tree covered with snow and glowing in the starlight.
He thought the tree would be beautiful inside the home so he cut
it down, placed candles on the tree and thus was born the tradition
of the decorated Christmas tree.
Most homes include in
their holiday decorations a Knusperhous, literally a nibble house.
The house is usually made of Lebkuchen and decorated with candy
that is attached with icing. Friends and family can "nibble"
from this house when they wish. The Lebkuchen tradition goes back
to the sixteenth century and is also used for cookies.
It is tradition for the
children to receive gifts from Saint Nicholas on December 6. Saint
Nicholas travels with Knecht Ruprecht, who carries bundles of switches
to remind children to be good all year. German children also receive
gifts from other figures on Christmas morning. One legend says they
are delivered by Christkind, a girl who wears a crown of candles
and carries a basket of gifts.
Christmas Eve finds most
people attending a candlelight church service. Afterward, family
and friends gather to sing carols, exchange gifts and enjoy holiday
foods. Christmas Day is much of the same except for the Christmas
Feast. People in Germany extend their Christmas one more day, for
the day after Christmas is also a holiday.
The ornaments on our
German christmas tree were purchased by Henry Albers on a trip to
Germany and are on loan to us from the Museum of Amana History in