Christmas in Australia with German Traditions
Children with parents immigrating to Australia from Germany in the 1950's - 1960's had parents that brought with them many of their German traditions. Whilst we have hot summer Christmas's in our shorts and t-shirts instead of being snuggled around a toasty fire with snow covered trees outside and we'd prefer cold beer or crisp white wine over a warm glass of mulled wine, the differences aren't huge. It's easy to see where a lot of our Australian traditions originated from.
Advent calendar (Adventskalendar)
The Advent calendar is an important countdown to Christmas for German children and a tradition we have already adopted. Everyday for four weeks preceding Christmas, a window in the advent calendar is opened to reveal a poem, parts of a story, candy or a small gift. Advent calendars flood shops across Germany during this season, while many parents prefer to make their own.
Christmas angels (Weihnachtsengel)
Christmas angels are the most loved Christmas ornaments in Germany. They are put up on Christmas trees and all around the house at Christmas time. The Christmas angels are most commonly made of wood, and are often seen playing their musical instruments. Expect to see thousands of these in any Christmas market in Germany.
The German culture is to celebrate on Christmas Eve with gifts exchanged and a feast fit for kings including roast pork, chicken, quail and pigeon (the quail and pigeon only if they were available, though most of the time German immigrants breed them in their own back yard) and all the roast vegetables one could imagine.
Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake, and it’s delicious! It is a cake made of flour, with fruits (chopped, candied, or dried), nuts, and spices added to it. Stollen is sprinkled with powdered sugar and sometimes zest is added to it.
Lebkuchen is another special German Christmas treat. This one resembles gingerbread. These baked delights contain honey, a number of spices, and nuts, and can be soft or hard, sweet, or spicy, and with or without icing.
While Sankt Nikolaus dresses similarly to the santa known to Australians, he does not drive a sleigh or come down the chimney. He carries around a record of each and every child’s good and bad behavior in his golden book. His assistant Knecht Ruprecht is a menacing figure whose role is to frighten children into good behavior with threats of being spanked. However, Sankt Nikolaus is a goodhearted character who simultaneously exudes gentleness and authority. In fact, the German Nikolaus is based on an actual person. Nikolaus was a popular bishop who lived in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) during the fourth century and became a legend due to his humble and generous nature.
On December 6th St. Nickolaus arrived in the evening to see how you'll fair come Christmas Eve. Chidlren will polish their shoes and leave them out for St Nickolaus to inspect and decide how they have been all year. If the child was good and well behaved the child was left gingerbread biscuits, chocolates and sweets that are only ever available at Christmas time. If the child was bad and disrepectful to their parents a Schlecker was left behind. A schlecker is a bunch of twigs and dead tree branches, nothing too thick but nothing pleasant either. It was held together with a red ribbon.
Do want to experience a traditional white Christmas? Check out our European Christmas Market Tours.