Christmas in Germany is about food, alcohol and candles. The festivities start at the beginning of December. Christmas market stands go up and everyone buys an Adventskranz, a wreath with four candles. The smell of the Glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas market stands wafts through the old city. The Hausfrauen start to bake cookies, lots of cookies. These are different from the North American ones. Many have gingerbread spices or nuts or are baked in intricate wooden moulds. All this excitement peaks on December 24th when the Weihnachtsmann (Christmasman, not quite Santa Claus) arrives to hand out the gifts and everyone stuffs themselves full of cookies, poultry or fish, potatoes and Rotkohl. Alas, the feasting also continues on into the first and second days of Christmas (the 25th and 26th) at about which time I decide I never want to see another German Christmas cookie again.
Although I have spent Christmas in Germany before, this is my first Christmas with Andreas’ family and with our little German-Canadian monkey. Because gifts are exchanged on the 24th, Santa has the opportunity to visit children during the day. He simply knocks on the front door and surprises the children. Christiane’s husband Fritz played Santa Claus. As you can see in our video, Kai was pretty surprised! He later told me that he knew that it was Fritz because he could see the rubber band on the beard! However, he still thinks that Fritz gave him all of those Christmas gifts, including all of the firecrackers for New Year’s Eve. (Conny and Andreas are apparently closet pyromaniacs and this gets expressed on New Year’s Eve when everyone sets off as many firecrackers as they can afford).
I took a lot of photos of the food that we have eaten — that seems to be one of the major differences between the Canadian celebration and the German one. Turkey is very uncommon here — we had goose, Kartoffelklöse (potato dumplings) and Rotkohl (red cabbage) for Christmas dinner. I added the Canadian flare with a pumpkin pie. I know that this is not tradition Christmas fare, however, the Germans think that it is very exotic. We ate by candlelight (of course) and although Christiane didn’t have real candles on her Christmas tree, I have seen this!