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10 Ways to Soak Up December in the Land of the Deutsch


We don’t have a Christmas tree. Not yet. We’re hanging our daily Advent readings that turn into ornaments on the fake rubber plant that sits in the corner of our furnished apartment. We’ve hung a few other ornaments on it, too.


We’re going home in two weeks to spend Christmas with our families, so the actual day will be a lot like we’re used to. But the whole month of December feels different here in the Land of the Deutsch. It’s so beautiful and rich with entire towns bedecked with lights and greenery. Manger scenes and candy stores line the markets in the city squares. Snow sprinkles the statues and the rooftops and the sidewalks.

Tradition rings loudly in this land, I can tell. But for us, well, we just don’t get a lot of it. Because our traditions are different. Our home is not here. We have no Christmas history in the Land of the Deutsch.

So we’re making new history this year. So I thought I’d let you in on some of the ways we’re going about accomplishing that task. Here are 10. In random order.

  1. Nurnberg Christkindlmarkt. We visited this famous Christmas Market last Saturday evening. Along with more Americans than I believe we have encountered since first stepping foot in this land. It was beautiful. And crowded. And the Lebkuchen Streusel we ate has my husband ready to drive the one hour back this weekend. Just to taste it again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Lebkuchen. The store fronts in the city sold ice cream all summer. But they’ve turned off the ice cream machines to sell Lebkuchen now instead. It’s like gingerbread but better. We found some that’s made with honey. It’s our fave.
  3. Vanilla almonds. Candy coated almonds toasted and sprinkled with sugar all over. And they serve them in the cutest little paper blue cones. So we  buy them and eat them as we walk through the market. And their warmth soaks into our cold hands. And then we take them home, and they still taste good cold. I could get into that tradition for the rest of my life, I believe.
  4. Advent Wreath. I made a beautiful one last year. And left it at home. So this year, I bought a German one. I expect we will treasure it for every Christmas to come. We light a candle each Sunday of Advent to begin the new week. We read Scripture and talk about Jesus and what He has to do with life before He came, and life now. It’s maybe my favorite part of the whole Christmastime season with my family.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Christmas Pyramid. We saw a huge one in Nurnberg when we were there. I took lots of pictures. Then I found a store that sells them here in Bayreuth. So, of course, I had to buy one. A sextagonal (is that even a word?) pyramid-shaped manger scene with little fan blades on top. There are places for candles on three of the sides. When the candles heat up, they move the fan blades and the inside of the pyramid goes around in a circle like a little rustic carousel. So fun!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. Gluhwein. Hot spiced wine that they serve in mugs. It tastes like spiked wassail. And it warms your bones and makes you feel like a real live German as you sip while walking through the Christkindlmarkt. The best part is, when you decide to keep the mugs, you don’t even feel bad because that’s why they make you pay the deposit. There’s a kids’ version, too. It’s called Kinder Punsch. Also quite delish.
  7. Nikolaustag. By the way, happy December 6! It’s Nikolaustag here in Germany, where everyone gets candy and little gifts from St. Nicholas. He is not to be confused with Santa Claus. Last night, we put our boots outside our apartment for him to fill. We awoke today to candy-filled boots with tic-tacs and chocolate bars and all sorts of yummies. The girls did have school, but the morning was fun, and they each brought home a gift from their teachers. (Oops! Was I supposed to send something for their teachers??)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  8. Lots of calls and emails home. Just keeping it real — as fun as it is to learn new traditions and celebrate a whole extra St. Nick day here in Germany, we miss our peeps. And sometimes we just need a touch of what we’ve always had at Christmas — familiar traditions.
  9. Twenty-four little gifts for my two little cuties. They really get into Advent calendars here. So we’re joining the fun. My friend lent me the most adorable Advent bags and a super cute box with numbered doors. Every morning, my kids get to open them up and find little treasures inside. How fun is that?
  10. Jesse Tree. My parents gave us this gift a few years ago so we could read through the advent every day of the month. A little book with a story for each day of the Advent. The girls take turns reading the Scripture-based story of God coming to earth before hanging each book on the tree. Several places online have similar daily readings available. Here’s one I helped write this year for the devotional website I help to write, Everyday With God. Ann Voskamp also has one you can download if you subscribe to her blog.

So, there you have it. A little taste of German Christmastime. I am curious to know — if you were away from your normal this Advent season, what traditions would you miss? What do you love about December?

4 Thoughts on “10 Ways to Soak Up December in the Land of the Deutsch

  1. Elisabeth on December 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm said:

    I am happy you are at my Place to celebrate the 2.Advent with us. Like Germans do… With coffee or tea or Glühwein and with homemade Weihnachtsplätzchen..

  2. Linda Thompson on December 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm said:

    Fun to read and see the German December Christmas you are having. A comment to your friend Elisabeth, thank you for being Bria’s friend, you are a blessing!
    I think I would miss the Christmas tree being up an ddecorated for weeks but I would love that there is more emphasis on the Advent, love it. And we use to have one of those candle twirling things! A long time ago we had it, do you remember it? 🙂
    Love, Mom…see you soon! :):)

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