The tradition of Christmas decorations in Germany

The tradition of Christmas decorations in Germany


That Christmas is a time eagerly awaited by many and that its atmosphere is magical is undeniable. However, little is known about the origin of such traditions, and Germany is present on this topic.

On December 24th we celebrate the life of the baby Jesus, the day of his birth, and to prepare for this special date, the characteristic decorations are the start.

Who designed the first nativity scene?

The nativity scene is one of these Christmas symbols, as it represents the scene of the birth of the baby Jesus, the main reason for celebrating this day. This tradition emerged in 1223, through Saint Francis of Assisi, when he asked the Pope for permission so that he could represent this celebration in a very lively and realistic way. After authorized. Saint Francis set up a straw nativity scene, with an image of the Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, and added an ox and a donkey and several other real animals, and then Christmas mass was celebrated.

In the city of Oberammergau, the Passion of Christ, Passionsspiele, is represented every year and there is strong community involvement in the perpetuation of these traditions. Oberammergau is also known for its magnificent carved wooden nativity scenes, unique and incredible pieces found in some local shops, which are a great option for a very original and special gift and souvenir.

The Oberammergau Nativity Scene brightening our home

Christmas trees, when did they appear?

In the 8th century, Germany was still largely dominated by the paganism of the Germanic and Celtic peoples, when Pope Gregory III sent Saint Boniface to spread Christianity in that region.

In 723, there was a large oak tree, near Fritzlar, dedicated to the pagan god Thor, worshiped by the Celestial people and priests (druids). Saint Boniface, intending to demonstrate to them that it was just a tree, like any other, cut it down, and everything that was in the path of the oak's fall was destroyed, with the exception of a small pine tree. Saint Boniface saw a miracle in this episode, as it occurred during the Season of Advent (in this post we will talk about Advent later).

Saint Boniface, then, preaching about Christmas, after the miracle occurred, declared: “From now on, we will call this tree the Baby Jesus Tree”. And from then on, the tradition continued, with pine trees adorned as one of the great Christmas symbols around the world.

Christmas market in Dortmund, with the traditional large decorated Christmas tree.

The best Christmas shop: Käthe Wohlfahrt

When it comes to Christmas decorations in Germany, the Käthe Wohlfahrt store is an icon. Founded in 1964 by the couple Wilhelm and Käthe Wohlfahrt, the store has become a reference in Christmas ornaments and decoration of great quality and beauty. In their stores, the magic of Christmas is renewed every day throughout the year.

You can find the store in several cities in Germany: Bamberg, Nuremberg, Berlin, Oberammergau, Rudesheim, Heidelberg and Miltenberg. However, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the chain's favorite, being the location of its first store, where there is the incredible Christmas Village and the Christmas Museum.

The store also has franchises in other countries in Europe and the United States of America.

The Christmas Village inside the Käthe Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Advent Calendar

The Season of Advent is the four weeks before Christmas, and this period is symbolized by the joy, preparation and expectation of the faithful for the birth of Christ. The first Sunday of Advent is the day where preparations for Christmas begin, including Christmas decorations.

However, the Germans found a creative and charming way to carry out this wonderful countdown: the advent calendar. Maybe you've already seen that Christmas calendar where every day a “little window” opens, revealing a little surprise, like Christmas symbols, cookies, chocolates, or even biblical phrases.

The origins of Advent calendars date back to the 19th century, when religious families made small lines on doors and walls to count the days until Christmas. According to what we know, it was only in 1851 that the first hand-carved Advent calendar was made in wood.

Although there is more than one trend, the most accepted is that Gerhard Lang, in 1908, was the one who printed the first Advent calendar, which he later improved with the first calendars with the doors to be opened each day. Unfortunately, with the arrival of World War II, Lang had to stop production.

However, after the war, this success of the German tradition returned, and Richard Sellmer was responsible for printing the first post-war copy, in 1946. This calendar was a landmark, and was called “The Little Town“, which is still available for purchase today at Sellmer Verlag, is a reference in this segment.

Part of the “Little town” Advent calendar, sold at Sellmer Verlag.

Another way to mark the arrival of this long-awaited period is with the Advent wreath. Decorated according to the taste of whoever is assembling it, it is important to have four candles, one of which will be lit every Sunday and can be accompanied by the reading of a passage from the Bible. Some people add a fifth white candle to the center, called a candle. Christ candlelit on Christmas Eve.

Advent wreath.

For private guided tours throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, contact us! All of our tours are personalized, where the guide will have the flexibility to take travelers to the points according to their taste and desires!

  • Private and Personalized Trips
  • Travel Consulting
  • Guided Tours
  • Transfers and Receptions
  • Travel Experiences
  • Personalized Accommodation with the Habitat service