Growing up, I had never given much thought to how Christmas was celebrated
in other areas of the world, but working at a German company for the past five
years, I have come to realize that Germans and Americans have different ways of
Even though there is no set date, being an American, when I think of the
beginning of the Christmas season, I would say that it starts the day after
Thanksgiving. That is when we start to have celebrations, and the shopping season
begins. In Germany, the Christmas season has a set date. It starts four weeks before
the 24th of December, and is marked with an advents wreath placed in the home.
Traditionally, the wreath is green with red candles and bows, but these days all
colors are used. Each Sunday, they light a candle until all four are burning.
Another cultural difference between Germans and Americans is when and how
the Christmas tree is put up. In my home, the day after Thanksgiving, we as a
family, choose and decorate our Christmas tree. In Germany, the Christmas tree is
put up by the parents on the 24th, and the children are not allowed to be present.
They will see the tree for thefirst time that night, lit and in full ornate.
The children in America look forward to Christmas Day, when Santa Clause
will come and bring them gifts if they have been "good" all year long. In Germany,
Santa Clause, (Nickolous)comes on December 6th. The children put their shoes in
front of the door and Nickolous, along with his helper "Kuecht Ruprecht", a black
man, brings sweets, apples, and nuts and places in their shoes. Bad children will
get a "rute", which is a bundle of twigs for spanking. On December 24th, instead
of Santa Clause coming, as he does in America, it is believed amongst the children
in Germany that Jesus comes back to earth and brings gifts.