The Local Germany (11 November 2015)
With no tear-jerking John Lewis adverts to mark the start of the festive season in Germany as they do in Britain, how do you tell when it’s alright to start feeling Christmassy? We’ve noticed a few signs.
1. Lebkuchen production started ages ago
We’re not even joking. Like, literally months ago.
The geniuses at Bahlsen started cooking up batches of Germany’s favourite Christmas biscuit back in August.
Should we be insulted that they think we’ll get through so much?
We’re not sure – but either way, it’s reassuring to know Germany’s well stocked up on the Lebkuchen front.
2. Santa’s post office is open
Haven’t written your wishlist yet? What are you waiting for?!
The team at Himmelpfort Christmas Post Office opened their doors this week to answer the thousands of letters to Santa they’ve already received.
The big man won’t be answering them all himself – but send a letter to Himmelpfort and you can rest assured that Santa will get your message.
3. Glühwein is now on the streets of Germany
The Local spotted this Glühwein stall on Berlin’s Unter den Linden back in mid-October. Photo: Hannah Butler
Germany’s traditional Christmas drink, Glühwein is a true winter warmer.
The name literally means “glow wine,” and comes from a time when glowing hot irons were used to heat up red wine while tipple-masters added all sorts of delicious spices to the mix.
It definitely gives you a glow after a couple of cups – so it’s no bad thing that Glühwein stalls have already appeared on shopping streets in Germany.
4. Christmas markets are being set up
Berlin’s Alexanderplatz market is already being set up for its opening on November 24th. Photo:Thomas Quine / Flickr Creative Commons
While you’re wandering about town with your cup of Glühwein, you might also spot some odd little huts in construction along the streets.
But oh, this is only the beginning.
In a few weeks, Christmas markets will have taken over Germany’s cities.
They may be a pain for the locals – but they’re also a sure-fire sign that Santa is on his way.
5. Nuremburg has chosen its Christkind
Nuremburg Christmas Market is Germany’s most famous, and opens on November 27th – but not without the help of one very special teenager.
The Christkind is a mysterious angel with gold curls, crown and wings, who begins the celebrations from a church window above the market.
Each year, a committee picks a young woman between 16 and 19 to take on the coveted role.
This month, 18-year-old Barbara Otto told The Local she will fulfil a “childhood dream” when she appears at the church window.
6. The supermarkets are full of Christmas treats
Tme to get stocking up. Photos: Hannah Butler
Ok, they have been for a while. One of the above photos was taken in September.
But after bravely walking past the Lebkucken, Zimtsterne and other festive treats for at least two months now, we reckon it’s about time to dig in.
You can always tell yourself you’ll save them until Christmas.
7. It’s less than a month until St. Nikolaus Day
Looks like these children have been well behaved this year. Photo: tin.G / Flickr Creative Commons
Before they go to bed on December 5th, German children polish their boots and leave one outside their door.
Why? Because December 6th is St. Nikolaus Day.
Not to be confused with Santa (who German children call “Weihnachtsmann”) St Nikolaus is still a big part of festive traditions.
If children awake to a boot full of treats on December 6th, they must have been good this year.
But if they get a switch of wood for their parents to spank them with… well. St Nikolaus’s sinister alter-ego Knecht Ruprecht must have been round. And no-one wants that.
8. You can get a Lebkuchen Latte in Starbucks
So maybe you’re not a Glühwein person. Or perhaps you simply don’t want to get tipsy during your Christmas shopping.
For a slightly less potent drink, head to your nearest German branch of Starbucks and pick up a Lebkuchen Latte.
They’ve also got a Toffee Nut Latte and a Honey & Almond Hot Chocolate… but in our humble opinion, nothing says German Christmas like Lebkuchen.
Even if it’s in a Starbucks cup.