German Christmas Traditions: Advent

3 of the Advent calendars available in the Alpine Market, $1.99 each

Christmas time is on its way, and no one celebrates Christmas like Germany. In this series of blogs, I want to teach you how to Enjoy Christmas like a real German. The first thing you should know about is Advent.

The word advent comes from the Latin word for arrival advenire, and the season of Advent comes from a Christian tradition of awaiting the arrival of Christ. In Germany, Christmas or Weihnachten is the most widely celebrated holiday of the year, and the Christmas season officially begins on the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent is basically the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This year it will begin on November 30th. In German homes, a single candle is lit on each one of these Sundays increasing the anticipation of the arrival of the Christkind (Christ child) or the Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus – literally Christmas man). These four candles are either displayed on an Advent wreath called Adventskranz or an elaborate mechanical contraption called a Weihnachtspyramid.

Another tool for celebrating Advent is the Adventskalender. Advent calendars are relatively new in the realm of Christmas traditions. They were first introduced in the mid 19th century and are used all over the world. An Advent calendar is usually made of cardboard or wood and has 24 individual numbered windows that are opened once a day on the days of December leading up to Christmas. Behind each window there is usually a candy or toy and a different Christmas image.

This is personally one of my favorite traditions. Every year when I was growing up my aunt in Liechtenstein would send my siblings and myself advent calendars and this year I am continuing that tradition for my nieces and nephews. Thankfully I didn’t have to travel all the way to Germany to get my calendars. We have them for sell right here in the Alpine Market! Be sure to get yours before Advent begins!

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