Germany in Christmas is beautiful, above all if there is snow. The Christmas Markets are beautiful, and houses are very tastefully decorated. There are lots of yummy cookies to indulge on. But if you live away from family it can be hard.
One of the ways you can handle missing your family and friends is submerging in the local culture. You don’t need to do this alone, you can connect with other expats via Facebook and/or different associations.
Our little family is equal parts Spanish and Austrian. We have mixed the three traditional festivities of each country so, in addition to going to a different Weichnactenmarket every weekend, we celebrate the following festivities:
This is a lovely tradition that my husband grew up with in Austria and that it’s also celebrated in Germany. In this tradition, children leave their shoes on the door and wake up to discover that St Nikolaus has left them tangerines, nuts, chocolates and cookies. It is celebrated on the 6th of December.
Advent calendar and advent wreaths
This is a tradition that my husband grew up with. We choose natural wreaths because they smell wonderfully. Instead of buying an advent calendar, we like to make our own and have a variety of sweets and chocolates.
Krampus is celebrated in Austria and some parts of Germany. Krapus is the opposite of St Nikolaus punishing misbehaved children. At two years old, our son is too small to understand this figure but we will most certainly talk about Krampus next year.
Nochebuena/ Christmas Eve /Heiliger Abend
Well, this was a big one for me growing up. It was the beginning of all the festivities. My husband had a great time decorating the Christmas tree. We plan to spend the afternoon making ornaments and decorating our little tree. Although in both our families’ gifts were exchanged at night, we are postponing it to the Christmas morning. We have a toddler and appreciate our sleep. We started last year a tradition of having onion soup for Christmas dinner.
Navidad / der erste Weihnachtstag (25 Dec)
This day we go for an Austrian menu and we will bake more goods.
der zweite Weihnachtstag (26 Dec)
Although this day is not celebrated in Spain, we are celebrating it this year with a traditional Spanish dish, fabada.
This was also a big one growing up for me. In Spain, we have the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. One for each bell stroke. We don’t know yet what we are going to do this day. We might go to a German Silvester party or stay at home, and probably fall sleep before midnight.
Reyes Magos (6th January)
This one is very dear to my heart. It is a Spanish tradition, the three wise men come and leave gifts for the good children and coal for those who misbehaved. This year we might be able to surprise our family and visit them.
As you can see, we try to incorporate and merge our family traditions and create new ones. We don’t always get to go home for Christmas, but we still have a bit of home on our heart.