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Learn German Vocabulary for Christmas Eve and Holy Season Traditions

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 11/26/2012

Learn the German words and expressions for using an Advent Calendar, visiting the Christmas Markets and preparing for Christmas Eve.

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    German Pre-Christmas Traditions

    The festive season in Germany starts on the 4th of December, the date beginning the four weeks leading up to Christmas. To mark the season, people in Germany buy or make a wreath, richly decorated and with four candles, one of which is lighted each consecutive Sunday.

    Adentskranz (m) = Advent wreath

    Kerze (f) = candle

    Tannengruen (n) = greens to decorate the wreath

    Glimmer (d) = tinsel

    Schleife (f) = bow

    Adventskalender (m) = calendar marking the days of Advent

    The Adventskalender is also a very typically German tradition. A calendar has 24 cut out windows, each of which is opened daily, beginning on the 1st of December. In slots behind each window children find sweets and other little treats. There are also Adventskalender for adults with small gifts or, at the top of the price range, even pieces of jewelry. Each day until Christmas, a door yields a gift.

    Adventszeit (f) = Advent season

    Vorfreude (f) = anticipation

    Kerze anzuenden = to light the candle

    Kerze ausblasen = to extinguish the candle

    Weihnachten = Christmas

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    During Advent nearly every German city, town or village installs its particular Christmas market, often in the marketplace. A visit to the Glitter Angel - Rauschgoldengel Christmas market is an old German tradition and so are the merchandise, food and drink on sale.

    Weihnachtsmarkt (m) = Christmas market

    Rauschgoldengel (m) = Glitter angel

    Christbaumkugel (f) = bauble to hang on Christmas tree

    Baumspitze (f) = tip to put on top of Christmas tree

    Lametta (n) = tinsel

    Weihnachtsbaumschmuck (m) = Christmas ornaments

    Krippe (f) = crip

    Holzschnitzereien (f) = wood carved figures

    Bockwurst (f) = hot sausage

    Gluehwein (m) = mulled wine

    Zuckerwatte (f) = candy

    Gebrannte Mandeln (f) = roasted almonds

    Kastanien (f) = chestnuts

    Weihnachtskarussel (n) = Christmas Merry go round

    Marktbesuch (m) = visit to Christmas market

    Schnee (d) = snow

    Frost (m) = cold

    Kaelte (f) = cold

    Warm anziehen - wrapping up warmly

    Faeustlinge (f) = mitts

    Familienbesuch (m) = family outing

    rote Backen (f) = red cheeks

    rote Nasen (f) = red noses

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    Christmas Eve

    The most important day of the three Weihnachtsfeiertage in Germany is the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, as it's then that gifts are exchanged. In the morning, the Christmas tree is decorated and gifts are placed under it. In the late afternoon a bell is rung, the doors are opened, the candles lit, carols sung and gifts opened.

    Weihnachtsbaum (d) = Christmas tree

    Tannenbaum (m) = Christmas tree

    Weihnachtsbaum schmuecken = to decorate the Christmas tree

    Weihnachtsfeiertage (f) = Christmas hoildays

    Geschenke (f) = gifts

    Geschenkpapier (n) = wrapping paper

    Weihnachtskarte (f) = Christmas cards

    schenken = to give

    Gloeckchen (n) = little bell

    Glocke laeuten = to ring the bell

    Weihnachtslieder (f) = Christmas carols

    Weihnachtsessen (n) = Christmas dinner

    Weihnachtsgans (f) = Christmas goose

    Weihnachtskarpfen (m) = Christmas carp

    Bratapfel (m) = baked apple

    Weihnachtspunsch = Christmas punch

    Mitternachtsmesse (f) = midnight mass

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    Additional reading

    For further German Pre-Christmas traditions go to my article about Christmas Preparations in Germany.

    We hope you enjoy this visit to a German Christmas with Bright Hub Education!