10 German Holiday Traditions and Their Origins

By Felix Schlagwein from Deutsche Welle

Who invented the Advent wreath? How did Christmas markets start? Why do some German children believe the “Christ Child” is the one who brings presents? Find out here.

1. The Advent Wreath

Nowadays, an Advent wreath usually has four candles, one for each Sunday in the month before Christmas. Originally, the wreath consisted of 24 candles and was made of wood. It was invented by Protestant theologian and educator Hinrich Wichern. In 1839, he set up his wreath to help children count down the days until Christmas.

2. Christmas Markets

Already in the Late Middle Ages, people flocked to Christmas markets during the Advent season. Back then, they didn’t drink mulled wine but bought food to last over the winter. Later on, craftsmen, toy makers and confectioners joined the markets. By now, Christmas markets can be found in many parts of the world.

3. Christmas Trees

Its evergreen branches protect Santa’s gifts. At first, the Christmas tree remained a privilege of the rich, until large fir and spruce plantations made it affordable for the general population in the 19th century. Later on, this German tradition spread over large parts of the Western world, and beyond. This picture was taken in Tokyo in 2015.

Read more on Deutsche Welle.