A brief history of
German Christmas can be found here. Though Christmas is extremely popular
worldwide, holiday celebrations in Germany start in earnest with the beginning
of Advent. On that day children get to open the first of the 24 doors
of their Adventskalender. The most
miraculous children's holiday in German-speaking countries is St.
Nikolaus Eve, celebrated on December 6. This is the day when all obedient
children get presents, mostly sweets, from St. Nikolaus, whose custom
is to put them into the shoes, providently set outside the bedroom door.
Germany (and most other countries) celebrates Christmas on December 24,
the Holy Night. The children have to leave the room until the Christmas
bell rings. At that point they will either find their presents under the
tree, or Father Christmas himself will pay a visit. Dinner is served after
presents have been unwrapped, and many families conclude the evening by
attending a midnight Christmas Mass. The 25th and 26th are official holidays,
mostly spent with family and friends.
*Advent is the season that begins the liturgical year. It consists of four Sundays starting with the Sunday closest to November 30th. The word advent is derived from the Latin adventus, which means "coming" or "arrival." In the societies of the Roman empire, the word adventus referred to the arrival of a person of dignity and great power -- a king, emperor, or even one of the gods. For Christians, Advent is the time when the church patiently prepares for the coming of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
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