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Christmas Eve Traditions in Germany

For the last weeks, many Germans have been visiting Christmas markets, opening the windows of their advent calendars, and celebrating Nikolaus. Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve, which is called der Heiligabend or der Heilige Abend in German. Let's look at some vocabulary associated with Christmas Eve traditions. 

 

Many families in Germany will have gotten a Christmas tree and decorated it in time for Christmas Eve. A Christmas tree can be referred to as der Tannenbaum (which is simply "the fir tree"), der Weihnachtsbaum, or der Christbaum.

 

Jetzt schmücken wir den Baum noch mit ein paar goldenen Kugeln.

Now we'll decorate the tree with a few golden balls.

Caption 57, Frohe Weihnachten der Christbaum

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In Germany, it is traditional to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than the next morning. The exchange of gifts is known as die Bescherung

 

Wie machen Sie das mit der Bescherung?

How do you do your gift exchange?

Caption 7, Weihnachtsinterviews Diane in Karlsruhe

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Families may go to mass as part of their Christmas Eve tradition:

Meistens gehen wir auch vorher... vorher noch in die Kirche

Usually we also still go beforehand... to church beforehand.

Caption 37, Weihnachtsinterviews Cettina in Linkenheim

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A traditional Christmas Eve meal in Germany is rather simple, consisting of either fish, or sausages with potato salad. The large Christmas feast is generally eaten on Christmas day. Throughout these days, there are also many sweets that are typically consumed. For more information on these, we would suggest watching the following video by Eva:

 

Nachdem ich euch ein typisches deutsches Weihnachtsessen gezeigt habe, kommen wir nun zum Wichtigsten, nämlich den Weihnachtsnaschereien.

After I've shown you a typical German Christmas meal, we now come to the most important [thing], namely, the Christmas goodies.

Captions 9-10, Weihnachtsessen mit Eva

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Further Learning
For more holiday vocabulary, check out our recent blog post. There are a number of individual videos on Yabla German that will certainly get you into the Christmas spirit. Listen to a traditional Christmas song, see Krampus parade around at the Christmas market in Munich, and watch some Germans decorate a Christmas tree under water. Or watch one of our feature films, such as Ein Sack voll Gold or Weihnachtsmann gesucht, starring a young Christoph Waltz!

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