Friends and family: Celebrating with loved ones
The busy build-up to Christmas is followed by a return to peace and quiet, and Christmas itself is usually celebrated in a small circle of close friends and family. In the biblical Christmas story, Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to their home town of Bethlehem for the census, and in Germany too, most people return to their home towns and villages to celebrate with their families. Bustling and busy university towns are suddenly empty and quiet.
Unlike in the UK or the USA, where the Christmas holiday period begins on the 25th of December, in Germany, Christmas Eve on the 24th of December is considered the main day for Christmas celebrations. That’s when the Christmas tree is put up and decorated and presents are opened. For Christian families, going to church is an integral part of the celebrations.
The festive feast: Time for good food
On the morning of the 24th of December, the shops in Germany are still open. Many people still have to work, while others are busy with last minute preparations for the festivities. That’s why some families traditionally prepare just a simple meal for Christmas Eve – there’s plenty of time for more elaborate festive dishes on the 25th and 26th of December, which are public holidays. For many, roast goose with red cabbage and dumplings is an essential part of Christmas. Others serve roast venison, and many in the north enjoy the local seasonal speciality of kale with copious amounts of sausage and salted meat. Raclette and fondue are also popular in some parts.