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Holidays in Germany By: Gretchen Ostern (Easter) April 20 Children are not obligated to give presents at Easter. They only receive them. In some German regions, children virtually “collect” Easter eggs from their relatives.

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ostern easter
Ostern (Easter)
  • April 20
  • Children are not obligated to give presents at Easter. They only receive them. In some German regions, children virtually “collect” Easter eggs from their relatives.
  • What once were conventional little gifts have now become more or less “surprise presents,” where the “Easter Bunny” has been places between the child and the giver. Small children believe that the Easter Bunny has brought and hidden the items. The Easter bunny is less of an “educational” figure than is St. Nikolaus, for the eggs are not given as rewards for being good.
erntedankfest thanksgiving
Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving)
  • Thanksgiving is held on the first Sunday after Michelmas. It is however, not the family affair and the feasting it is in America.
  • Special masses are held to give thanks for the abundant harvest. In many areas the faithful bring fruits and crops to church to have them blessed. In a few places artistic carpets of fruits, seeds and crops are created in front of the altar.
  • In some areas a pre-Christian custom is followed: the last sheaf is decorated with colorful ribbons and left in the barn until next year’s seedtime.
heiligabend christmas eve
Heiligabend (Christmas Eve)
  • In Germany Heiligabend is the most important day. Shops and offices close at about 1 p.m. to allow families to prepare for the celebrations.
  • When Christmas trees became popular and giving gifts was expanded to the whole family, all presents were arranged around the decorated tree on a table. Today, this is still a custom. Depending on the size of the tree the presents are laid out on the floor beneath it or on the table.
  • When everything is ready – normally after dark – a bell is rung or Christmas music played to invite all to come see the lighted tree and receive their gifts.
  • After all excitement a light meal is served.
erster weihnachtsfeirtag christmas
Erster Weihnachtsfeirtag (Christmas)
  • December 25
  • On Christmas Day the presents are again admired and appreciated, dear friends come to visit and the Christmas meal is served.
    • Traditionally it could be carp or goose, but nowadays it could be anything the family fancies.
silvester new years eve
Silvester (New Years Eve)
  • December 31
  • On December 31 at midnight, chruch bells begin to toll. People celebrating at parties raise their champagne glasses to toast to the New year with a “Prosit Neujahr!”
  • As soon as the fireworks start, people leave their houses to watch the Year’s balls.
  • A favorite game for this evening is “Bleigienssen”: pouring molten lead from a ladle into a bowl of water and telling fortunes from the shapes into which the lead hardens.