Christmas in Germany

6 Essential Elements of Christmas in Germany

Munich Christmas Market

GettyImages / Maremagnum


Are you spending Christmas in Germany? This really is the most wonderful time of year in Germany where the country seems to be bursting in celebration. Visit the many German Christmas markets, ice skating between the snowflakes, and learn all the beloved Christmas traditions (many of which might be quite familiar).

Here is a guide to all the best things to enjoy for Christmas in Germany.

01 of 06

Go to a Traditional Christmas Markets

Christmas Market in Berlin

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Almost every German city celebrates the holiday season with a traditional Christmas market. These markets, dating back to the 14th century, originally provided food and practical supplies for the cold winter season.

But soon the best markets also sold gifts and novelty items, making them a beloved holiday tradition and the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. Today, around 85 million people visit the more than 1,500 German Christmas markets each year.

Along with gifts and items for sale, enjoy these must-try sweets and winter drinks available at most Christmas markets. Eating and drinking is part of the fun.

02 of 06

Engage in German Christmas Traditions

Annaberger Weihnachtsmarkt

From the Christmas tree to the Christmas market, it's all German. Many of the most beloved Christmas traditions come from Germany and are now celebrated around the world. Germany is the true home of Christmas traditions.

Read about the most beloved holiday customs like the Christmas tree and advent calendar and learn more about those you don't know. Are you familiar with Nikolaustag (December 6th)? What about hte advent wreath that is lit with a new candle every Sunday?

03 of 06

Do some Marathon Christmas Shop

Dresden Christmas Market.JPG
Erin Porter

The German Christmas markets are full of goods for sale - some handcrafted, some not - but that is not your only option. Whether you are looking for homemade Christmas decorations and gifts, hunting down designer bargains, or want to soak up some atmosphere in Germany's illuminated shopping streets, Germany at Christmas is primed for a shopping spree.

04 of 06

Do some Christmas Baking

Tommy Rumrich Andrew

Kitchens are warm and cozy and the perfect place to feel like Christmas, especially when they are turning out tray after tray of delicious Christmas cookies.

Baking is serious business in Germany, and during Christmas it seems like absolutely everyone is baking. Advent cookies or Plätzchen are endlessly baked and exchanged so your cookie jar will runneth over in season. Practice your baking, and the phrase "Hier riecht es nach Weihnachten!" (It smells like Christmas in here!).

A few of the favorite treats:

  • Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen - German gingerbread is renowned around the world and comes in a variety of styles and spices. Make your own and craft a unique Lebkuchenhaus (Gingerbread House).
  • Vanillekipferln - "Vanilla crescents" are a shortbread made with ground hazelnuts and vanilla sugar.
  • Zimtsterne - Delicious 6-pointed "cinnamon stars" are an essential element in holiday baking. They celebrate the once elusively expensive spice of cinnamon and pair it with almonds.
  • Butterplätzchen - Butter cookies that can be enjoyed all year, but are shaped like stars, bells, moons and Christmas trees for the holidays
  • Scharzweiβ Gebäck - These intricate looking black and white cookies appear like a checkerboard.
  • Heidesand - The name resembles its texture, crumbly like baked sand
  • Helle Linzer Plaetzchen - Two buttery shortbread cookies are sandwiched together with jam to make these festive cookies.
  • Makronen - Known in English as "macaroons", these traditional German Christmas cookies date back to the 18th century. 
Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Get Involved in Winter Sports

Snow covered Black Forest near St. Maerten, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany
Brigitte Merz/LOOK-foto/Getty Images

While over the border in Switzerland gets more attention, Germany is full of fine wintertime activities.

From the Alps to the Black Forest, Germany offers numerous ski resorts and winter sport opportunities to fill your holiday season with crisp air and powdery snow. Whether you are looking for speedy downhill runs or want to enjoy cross-country skiing in picturesque scenery, German ski resorts won’t disappoint.

And don't forget snowshoeing, ice skating, as well as sledding.

06 of 06

Embrace the Winter Weather

Berlin winter skyline with snow on the roofs / Getty Images

The month of December is packed with winter festivals and holiday events that will get you into the Christmas spirit. That said, you do have to brave the often frigid temperatures. Expect ice, snow, and freezing winds.

It is best to pack for lots of layers with waterproof boots, hat, and gloves, scarf, and heavy pants and jacket.

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