Merry Christmas wishes are sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Ellen DeGeneres; “Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on.
The Holidays are more or less right around the corner — close enough, in fact, to perk up a bit if all of your preparations happen at the last minute like mine usually do (hey, no judgment!).
But before going into a tizzy about your Holiday to-do list for this year, let’s take a moment and look at the various German Christmas traditions as well as some linguistic aspects of wishing someone a Merry Christmas in German!
Christmas is a truly magical time of the year in Germany, and if you ever get the chance to travel there during this season, I highly recommend you do so.
Enough with the opening speech — let’s jump into this post about Christmas in Germany!
There are a few ways to wish someone a Merry Christmas in German — and just like in many other countries, there is a variety of phrases that might come in handy, particularly when you aren’t sure whether the other person is celebrating Christmas or not.
If you are sure the person is celebrating Christmas or you’re simply more of a traditionally minded person, you can say:
Frohe Weihnachten! — Merry Christmas! or
Fröhliche Weihnachten! — Joyous Christmas!
You could also say:
Frohes Fest! — A happy celebration! or
Frohes Weihnachtsfest! — A joyous Christmas celebration!
If you want to keep things a little bit more “neutral”, either because you aren’t sure whether the person is not celebrating a traditional Christmas holiday (or because you know they aren’t), you could also simply opt for:
Schöne Feiertage! — Happy Holidays!
Traditionally, most people are off between December 24th and December 26th, so even if the person you are talking to might not be celebrating Christmas, you can be pretty sure they will have some time off.
If you are more intent on focusing on the religious and/or contemplative aspect of Christmas and the spirit of the holiday itself, you could say:
Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest! — A blessed Christmas celebration! or
Ein frohes und gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest! — A blessed and joyous Christmas celebration! or
You could also keep it short and simply say:
Gesegnete Weihnachten! — Blessed Christmas!
When wishing a person a Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, for that matter) you will also notice that a lot of times this is done in connection with wishing someone a Happy New Year, especially when you’re not likely to see the person again between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
A lot of times, especially on Christmas cards, you will find the phrase:
Gesegnete Weihnachten und ein frohes neues Jahr! — Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Variations of this include:
Frohe Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr! — Merry Christmas and lots of luck for the new year!
Frohe Weihnachten und alles Gute für das neue Jahr! — Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year!
Especially the latter phrases are oftentimes used in cards or personal notes, such as the ones that businesses send out to their customers.
Now that we know how to say “Merry Christmas” in German, let’s have a look at the various Christmas customs and traditions leading up to Christmas that you might encounter when staying in Germany during Christmas season!
As I previously mentioned, there are a plethora of Christmas traditions in Germany — however, there are also traditions leading up to Christmas.
Some of them are more popular with children, and some of them are observed by families with or without children alike.
Let’s take a look!
Advent calendars are especially popular with kids, but I know even some adults who love following them simply because they make counting down the days leading up to Christmas Eve so much sweeter.
Advent calendars are usually sheet calendars to hang on your wall with 24 small flaps, often with Christmas images or winter scenes. For each day from December 1st to the 24th, you open a flap and there is a small picture or sometimes even a short poem underneath.
For kids, there are special advent calendars that contain small pieces of chocolate, which are revealed when opening the flap. This is an especially easy way to test your child’s self-control (since when there’s a sweet treat involved, it gets significantly harder to stick with opening one flap a day).
This is probably my favorite pre-Christmas tradition observed in Germany: Advent wreaths!
Advent wreaths, as you can probably tell by the name, are wreaths usually made out of evergreen or pine branches with four (usually red) large candles and other Christmas or winter decorations on top, such as red bows, stars, or pine cones.
Starting on the first Sunday of December, one candle is lit to symbolize Christmas Eve approaching. The following Sunday, a second candle is lit, and so on. By Christmas, all four candles on the wreath are lit.
Advent wreaths are essentially a Christmas countdown for adults.
There are plenty of German Christmas traditions that aren’t just popular among tourists, but also with the German locals.
From Christmas markets to mulled wine: in this part of the article, I’m gonna share a few of my favorites!
The Christmas market — or Weihnachtsmarkt — is one of the main reasons to travel to Germany during the holiday season (for me). They’re an essential part of German culture, and definitely not just a tourist attraction that the locals would avoid. Christmas markets are a longstanding tradition in Germany, and they’re the perfect place to enjoy a mulled wine (Glühwein) or two with your friends.
German Christmas markets offer a variety of things to do and see: they usually have plenty of snack booths where you can get savory and sweet treats as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Local vendors sell beeswax candles, ornaments, handmade soaps, and household goods as well as winterproof clothing items (from sweaters to hats and mittens). Wooden toys as well as jewelry or Weihnachtsplätzchen (Christmas cookies) can also be found here.
So if you are looking for a souvenir or some Christmas presents to send to your loved ones back home, this is definitely the place to go!
The best thing about Christmas markets though is the atmosphere: usually, they are richly decorated and illuminated with Christmas lights and decoration, and even the booths are decorated as well.
Pro tip: head over in the late afternoon or early evening to see everything light up and experience the magic unfolding!
Speaking of Christmas markets: As I already mentioned above, Christmas markets do not only offer food, but also some of the trademark (alcoholic) drinks of the holiday season.
Glühwein (mulled wine) is probably the most popular of the two. Made out of warm red wine, sugar and a variety of spices, it’s the perfect drink to keep you warm when strolling around the Christmas market in frigid temperatures. While traditionally Glühwein is made out of red wine, there’s also a version made out of white wine. (Personally, I have never tried the latter.)
Another favorite at German Christmas markets is the so-called Feuerzangenbowle (fire tong punch). This tongue-twister of a drink is made out of mulled wine, rum (with a high alcohol content) and a sugar cone. The sugar cone is placed over the (usually pretty large mug) of mulled wine, doused in the rum and then gets lit on fire. Watching this is quite the spectacle and about fifty percent of why I love indulging in a steaming hot mug of Feuerzangenbowle — however, if you are a lightweight like me, you might want to be careful and stick to only one “fire tong punch” since it’s quite strong.
Just like in the US, Christmas trees are a staple in German households during Christmas time. Ever since moving from Germany to the US, I have noticed that the “American way” of decorating the tree is much more elaborate. Compared to this, the German approach is almost minimalistic.
Also: The Christmas trees used in Germany are real evergreen trees — not the fake ones popular with a lot of households in the US. And just like the tree is real, the candles on the tree are oftentimes as well (to the horror of many of my American friends due to the possible fire hazard).
Christmas ornaments have a longstanding tradition in Germany, as well as other European countries. Most of the time, they are made out of real glass and come in all sizes and shapes — popular are not only traditional Christmas motives, but also things that technically don’t have anything to do with Christmas. They are often decorated with lots of glitter, whether they are classic Christmas ornaments or of a more “non-traditional” kind.
Some families also like to put chocolates, homemade Christmas cookies or homemade ornaments on their Christmas tree.
Christmas angels (Weihnachtsengel) are a staple when it comes to the Christmas decoration in many German households. These angels are little wooden figurines originating from the Erzgebirge — a mountain range in Saxony, bordering the Czech Republic. Weihnachtsengel have a longstanding tradition and oftentimes families don’t have just one or two, but an entire “parade” that is put up every year during the holidays.
These angels are often depicted in various positions: holding tiny candles or banners or (and this is probably the most popular variant) playing instruments.
Just like the Christmas angels, Räuchermännchen also originate from the Erzgebirge, which is famous for its unique wooden crafts mostly traditionally involving Christmas motives. Räuchermännchen are incense smokers, often depicting Santa, a nutcracker or miners. The Räuchermännchen comes apart in two pieces, usually at its hip, where you insert a lit/burning cone-shaped incense block, the so-called Räucherkerze. After the incense cone has been inserted, the Räuchermännchen is re-assembled. Soon after, you can watch incense smoke coming from the Räuchermännchen’s mouth (hence the name “Little Smoking Man”).
You might be a little surprised to hear this name — after all, Christmas and pyramids have next to nothing in common. Christmas pyramids, or Weihnachtspyramiden, are another traditional staple in German households when it comes to Christmas decoration. Just like the two ornaments mentioned before, Christmas pyramids also originate from the Erzgebirge in Eastern Germany.
A Christmas pyramid consists of a pyramidal outer frame (usually containing spots for about four tea candles) and a pyramid-shaped, usually decorated carousel with a rotor at the top. Said rotor is driven by the warm air arising from the tea candles (hello, physics!) and thus starts spinning slowly when the candles are lit.
Weihnachtspyramiden are usually decorated with nativity scenes, however, there are also some decorated with winter or forest scenes.
Christmas cookies (or Weihnachtsplätzchen) are a must during the Christmas season! These sweet treats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with different flavors and/or sprinkles or dipped in chocolate. Some families even have their own recipes which are handed down from generation to generation.
Baking Christmas cookies is a favorite holiday activity for some people, especially those with smaller children.
Since not everyone has time to bake these treats during the busy holiday time, many bakeries in Germany sell all kinds of Christmas cookies: you can buy them either as a pre-packaged mix or simply pick your favorites.
Another favorite of the Holiday season is Lebkuchen, German gingerbread. It’s usually sold at Christmas markets or in supermarkets, and often heart- or star-shaped and filled with sweet jam.
While you might recognize some of the German Christmas traditions since your part of the world has similar traditions, there are some things Germany does different from the rest of the world when it comes to celebrating this time of the year.
Unlike the US or UK that celebrate Christmas on the morning of the 25th of December, in Germany Christmas Eve is celebrated on December 24th. And while in the US presents are bought by Santa, in Germany it is the Christkind (the Christ child) that is responsible for delivering all the gifts.
While Santa doesn’t play much of a role in the actual Christmas celebration on the 24th of December, he—or more precisely, somewhat more of his equivalent—plays an important role on December 6th, the so-called Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas Day).
St. Nikolaus, better known as “der Nikolaus”, in popular depiction is a rather heavy set, friendly man in a red frock with a white beard (sound familiar?) who visits all families on the night of December 5th to December 6th when everyone is asleep. Traditionally kids (and sometimes adults, depending on the family) leave their shoes out overnight to find sweet treats, mandarin oranges, walnuts and/or small gifts in them on the morning of the 6th.
(That is, if you were a good kid that year. Traditionally, people who haven’t been good are left with a couple of pieces of coal in their shoe as “presents”.)
December 25th in Germany is also known as “Erster Weihnachtstag” (first Christmas Day). This day is usually reserved for visiting close family that lives further away such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Same goes for December 26th, the “Zweiter Weihnachtstag” (second Christmas Day). More presents are usually exchanged and there’s lots of rich foods and more Christmas cookies.
On these days, pretty much everyone is traveling (sometimes even cross-country), which means that traffic is usually iffy, especially when snowfall or — more likely — heavy rain or sleet is involved.
I hope I could give you a good insight into Christmas in Germany — both regarding some vocabulary as well as German Christmas traditions — to get you into the holiday spirit!
Frohe Weihnachten, everyone!
Here is a collection of Christmas wishes and Short Christmas messages for you to sent for your family and friends. Short Christmas Greetings are the best ways.
It’s that time of year again. People keep dropping by my desk to ask what they should write in their emails they want to send out before the holiday period ahead of us. There isn’t really one set thing that you have to say, but it’s a good idea to consider cultural aspects when composing your text. It’s fine to say “Happy Christmas” to people you know celebrate Christmas, but is it the best message to send out across the company or to clients you don’t know well? Here we offer you some phrases which use the word “Christmas” and some which use alternatives – the main ones being “holiday period / season” or “festive period / season”.
Phrases for holiday greetings
Note: Happy Christmas / New Year – each word starts with a capital letter.
Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. If you post your holiday greetings email you want to write, we’d be happy to give you feedback on it.
If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:
The easiest way to spread some Christmas cheer and make this year a little brighter is by listening to Christmas carols and sending Season’s wishes. Christmas is definitely one of those times of the year when people’s hearts get closer and spirits tune in for a real celebration.
Here are some suggestions of Yuletide wishes for you to send to your loved ones, to your friends and family, to people you work with, and to those in need of encouragement. You can also visit our collection of Happy New Year Wishes.
Joy to the world.
Our warmest wishes!
Ho Ho Ho!
All I want for Christmas is you!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Our Warmest Wishes.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
Silent night, Holy night.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Joy, Peace, Love.
Let’s all make it a Christmas to remember.
You better not pout. I’m telling you why.
Just chillin’ till Christmas.
Please, don’t tell Santa.
Brace yourselves. ‘Tis the season to be jolly!
Share the Christmas Cards in this video by clicking on the top-right arrow in the video frame.
Christmas is a time of excitement, hope, and love. It is the season of joy and giving, when people go out of their way to help others and let their loved ones know how important and appreciated they are. By October, the stores are already stocked with Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, trees, presents, and lights, but Christmas is so much more than tangible gifts. While Christmas traditionally symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ, all people, whether religious or not, can come together in community and share the symbolism behind the decorations. For example, the rich green of the evergreen Christmas tree signifies everlasting hope. The star or angel that crowns the tree is a sign of fulfillment, peace, and goodwill toward all people. Candles symbolize a light in the darkness and the positive impacts that we can all make in the world. The continuous circle of the wreath reminds us that love never dies. Santa Claus himself symbolizes generosity. Whether young or old, rich or poor, Christian or not, we can all share in the wonder, promise, and bountiful nature of Christmas, as we reflect on the past year, uplift our loved ones, and assist those in need.
You may also want to check out:
Quotes about Winter and Snow
Perfect Christmas Cards with the Best Season’s Greetings
Celebration Time! | Good Morning Wishes for Christmas
Our experts share their favorite sayings for what to write in a Christmas card! them with phrases from other categories to create the holiday card greeting that.
Holiday card messages send a season’s greeting to those you know. Please review our collection of holiday card greetings, Christmas card sayings and wishes for ideas. When it comes time for Santa Claus to make his once-a-year-trip, may your household be filled with love, laughter and goodwill. And, may all of your Christmases be white.
Do you love Christmas card messages and Christmas card sayings? We’ve got a boatload. Keep on reading.
You might like our Funny Christmas Quotations.
Check out Christmas Around the World
BREAK IN THE ACTION FOR A JOKE
A Christmas shopper’s complaint is one of long-standing.
Decorating Tip: Place these Christmas messages by a Christmas candle in your house.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.
Check out Best Holiday Songs
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This is why brushing up on Christmas greetings in Spanish is a smart however, the change in tense can alter the entire sentence structure.