This year’s Christmas is my first Christmas with my husband’s family in Germany. God, it still feels weird saying the word ‘husband’… Spoiler: No pictures of white Christmas in Germany. According to all Germans I spoke to, there has been NO white Christmas in Heidelberg for a loooong time. Global warming?
Unlike in Malaysia and many other countries, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December in Germany. In Germany, the four weeks leading to Christmas is called Advent. There are two things you’d normally see in a typical German homes during Advent. The first one is the advent wreaths made of Holly flowers with four candles in its center. One candle is lit on the beginning of each week leading up to Christmas.
Another thing you’d also notice is the advent calendar which is usually made of paper or card with 24 little ‘windows’ with Christmassy pictures underneath them. You’re supposed to open these windows everyday. These days you can also get special advent calendars which comes with chocolates and little gifts.
If you love all things Christmas, do give German Christmas markets a try. Locals may think it’s touristy but still, it’s a great way to keep the Christmas spirit up. Besides, what better reason to stand outside in the cold with a bunch of tourists than to sip a cup of warm, delicious Glühwein?
Although Germany is predominantly Christian, most Germans, especially the younger generations, generally are not religious or actively practising Christianity. Going to Christmas mass on Christmas morning is usually more of a family tradition than a religious act.
My husband grew up in the non-religious household. Christmas is all about spending time with the family and eating well. Since the passing of his father, my husband and his siblings usually starts the day with visiting their father’s grave before going to a musical recital at a local town square. It was raining this year during the recital but it was a great atmosphere as everyone was in jolly mood and singing along with the choir.
After the recital, we headed home where we had some Champagne and Christmas cookies, lighted the candles on our minimalistic Christmas tree, sing more Christmas songs and watched the little ones unwrapped their Christmas gifts. Later in the evening, we had our much anticipated Christmas dinner.
This year, we had duck and goose with potatoes and chestnuts (sorry, I didn’t know exactly the name of the dish!) as our main dish. It was really good and filling, I was so fulled until the next day!
Christmas in Germany is a completely different experience from the ones I’ve had growing up in Malaysia. I would love to have my family to come over in the future to experience this wonderful time of the year. I don’t considered myself religious at all, so Christmas for me is a time where I get to spend time with my loved ones who I rarely get to see the rest of the year. It’s a time to relax, reflect on the entire year and be thankful for the life I get to live, especially with all the crazy things that’s been going on around the world recently.
Appreciate the little things that bring meaning to your life and make you happy. Count your blessings more than the things you wished for but have yet to get. Last but definitely not least, spread love and show compassion. The world is in dire need of that right now.