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Learn German Vocabulary for Christmas Eve and Holy Season Traditions

By Ronda Bowen

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

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


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

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

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!