Christmas Around the World is a 10-part series. This audio podcast on Germany is narrated by Igor Schlidt. Igor Schlidt grew up in Paderborn, which is located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Today, he lives with his wife in Vancouver.
Igor Schlidt: In Germany, Christmas traditions vary by region. On Saint Nicholas’ Day, the 6th of December, Saint Nicholas puts goodies in children’s shoes. Sometimes, St. Nicholas visits children in kindergartens, schools or at public events. They have to recite a short poem or sing a song in order to get sweets or a small gift.The actual Christmas gift-giving (Bescherung) usually takes place on Christmas Eve. This tradition first began with the Reformation.
Gifts may be brought by the Weihnachtsmann, (Christmas man), who resembles either St. Nicholas or the American Santa Claus, or by Christkindl. The children often stay up as late as they like, often till the early hours of the morning.
The Christmas Tree is first put up and decorated on the morning of the 24th. The gifts are then placed under the tree.
Often after Christmas Vespers in the church and an evening meal, the father usually goes into the room where the tree is standing, lights the candles and rings a little bell. It is still a custom to sing Christmas songs around the tree before opening up the presents.
The feast either takes place at supper on Christmas Eve or on the first day of Christmas. Carp is eaten in many parts of the country. Potato salad with frankfurter or wiener sausages is popular in some families.
In all parts of Germany you find a wide variety of Christmas cookies baked according to recipes typical for the family.
Audio captured and edited by Ed Stortro
Audio transcription by Ed Stortro
Voice over Igor Schlidt