Why do I mention there is a difference between the typical saying “Merry Christmas” in the Anglo countries to the “Frohe Weihnachten” in Germany?
I mention it because it shows the differences in the way we celebrate Christmas. Here in Germany, it is very much a family event. Maybe a little like Thanksgiving in the US. On Christmas Eve we get together with our immediate family members. In most cases it is only father, mother and the children, sometimes the grandparents are there too.
Since both my parents have passed away I was “adopted” by my favorite aunt and her family so I usually spend Christmas Eve with them. My aunt lives in the village I was born in and we start by going to church in the afternoon. I love our old church. It is nearly a thousand years old and both my parents are buried in its churchyard. For me, it is homecoming each time I visit. During the church service, they “play” the Christmas story. It is played by local people and sometimes it’s so bad that it becomes funny. All the same, it’s part of the tradition and I thoroughly enjoy it.
It’s also the one time a year I meet some of my old childhood friends from before we escaped Communist Germany; at least the ones that stayed in the village like my oldest friend Christine and my goddaughter Alexandra.
After church, we go to my aunts and have a sumptuous dinner. And now the fun begins. We gather around the Christmas tree with all the gifts underneath it and sing traditional German Christmas carols. This is the time I love best. Sometimes one of us reads a Christmas story or makes music. Then it is time for the gifts. We don’t give each other large gifts but we always have a small personal gift nicely wrapped up for everyone. Usually, the children get more than is good for them 🙂
My aunt still uses regular candles so it really is very traditional and romantic. To make this part last longer we throw dice and only the one who has a six gets a gift. Sometimes whoever’s turn it is, has to perform something. For the kids, this is a lot of fun and for us adults, it can be quite challenging. Then around midnight, we have coffee and a special cake my aunt always bakes and we leave for our respective homes feeling loved and belonging.
The most important part of German Christmas is to be together with the people you love most. We must never forget to appreciate them! Even if sometimes we are not of the same mind or they behave in ways we cannot agree with, we must make sure to show them love and respect. Never part company on an argumentive note. Words can hurt more than actions and linger on to poison the relationship.
Why don’t you share how Xmas is celebrated in your family?
P.S: Be grateful if you still have a family! Spend as much time as possible with them! Regret is the greatest pain we suffer. It is in your hands to make sure you don’t need to suffer it.