Holidays, be they religious holidays, national commemorations or family-centered fests, have their own unique traditions that vary from country to country and even region to region. In Germany, for example, presents are shared on Christmas Eve in the glow of live candles on the tree. And New Year's Eve is an occasion for fireworks all over the country.
Passed down from one generation to the next, our traditions and customs help define who we are and often function as milestones in our lives. While many interesting traditions and customs are limited to Germany or a particular region of Germany, others are celebrated throughout western Europe or shared with many parts of the world.
Children with colorful, handmade lanterns promenade through the streets, cheerfully singing songs they learned by heart and hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the medieval soldier’s uniform. Learn more about the celebration of St. Martin.
Advent and Christmas in Germany are a time for traditional, family celebrations. A number of beloved German traditions have become staples around the world, like Christmas markets, Advent calendars, and popular carols.
Does the “same procedure as every year” accurately describe your annual party? Perhaps you should try adding a little German flair to your New Year’s Eve. Dazzle your guests with an obscure British comedy sketch, jelly donuts, “fiery” drinks, fortune telling, and fireworks.
If you visit a town in Germany’s Rhineland or in the southwestern region during the supposedly dark days of winter you’re likely to find the whole place thrown topsy-turvy. That's because the period before Ash Wednesday is known as Carnival or the fifth season.
Easter is a time when all customs seem to symbolize renewal, life and the beginning of spring. Church services, of course, but also colorful eggs, special meals, and huge bonfires are some of the German customs that mark this special time of year.
A number of traditions ranging from May festivals and equestrian processions to the Walpurgis Night fires take place during the romantic month of May, while May 1 has been celebrated as Labor Day in Germany since the late 19th century in remembrance of an American event.
Every year in late summer, one can see the eager and proud faces of first-graders standing in front of their primary schools in Germany, happily holding their colorful Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled to the brim with sweets and little gifts.
Each year on October 3, Germany marks the day in 1990 when East and West Germany became one Federal Republic of Germany.
In between lunch and dinner, there is traditionally a social gathering around a piece of cake or two and a hot steaming cup of coffee or tea. These days, people still get together with friends and family on Sunday afternoon to share some cake and good conversation.