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Christmas treeTop 10 Ways to Celebrate
the Holidays German-Style

10. Shop online and early: For a wide selection of German foods and beverages to eat and give throughout the season, visit a German online retailer as early as October or November.

Some favorite examples include beautiful, German-imported Advent calendars with chocolates inside; German-imported digestives and high-quality schnapps, and stocking-stuffer chocolates and other candy shaped as German good-luck symbols such as ladybugs, pigs, four-leaf clovers and horseshoes.

9. Kicking it off with coffee and cake: Begin the holiday celebration four weeks prior to Christmas, the first Sunday of Advent, by celebrating “Advents Kaffee” with German-imported cookies, cakes and coffee. This is a holiday spin on the everyday Kaffeeklatsch, or coffee and dessert get-together that Germans often have. Especially popular German cookies include:
Katzenzungen, which are long and thin, literally translated as “cat's tongues”
Dominosteine, which have tiny layer cakes of gingerbread, jam and marzipan, all covered with chocolate
Zimtsterne, or little cinnamon star cookies with white icing
Spekulatius, or almond-gingerbread cookies
Pfeffernüsse, or spicy gingerbread
Printen, or soft and chewy gingerbread cookies with tiny sugar crystals for a little crunch coated with chocolate

8. Taking a daily dose of chocolate: Purchase a charming German-imported Advent calendar to count down the days of December until Christmas. Some Advent calendars are plain cards with 24 perforated windows, each day revealing a new symbol or scene. Others have 24 covered windows, each with a square of chocolate, a brandy-filled chocolate, or a chocolate truffle behind it.

7. Hanging stockings for St. Nikolaus: Germans really do Christmas right; in fact, they sort of do it twice! Try this fun way to spread out the holiday cheer with a variety of unique, German-imported candy: German children hang their stockings from the fireplace on the evening of Dec. 5, and if they've been good, they'll find the next morning that St. Nikolaus has filled them with candy. This is called St. Nikolaus Day. Other presents are opened on Christmas Eve, the evening of Dec. 24.

6. Finding handcrafted gifts at a Weihnachtsmarkt: Visit a German-style outdoor Christmas market, known as a Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt, for some old-fashioned holiday spirit. Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and many American cities have similarly styled markets, with German-imported foods, decorations and toys.

5. Sipping warm and spicy wine: Instead of a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter's day, try Gluehwein, a spiced wine served hot during the holidays in Germany. To make it, combine an inexpensive bottle of red wine in a pot with a cinnamon stick, six cloves, some lemon slices, and 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar. Add some German schnapps to taste – try cherry-flavored Kirschwasser or plum-flavored Zwetschgenwasser. German schnapps is typically much less sweet than most American types, and always colorless. In addition to servings as an enhancement to gluehwein, it can be served very cold in a shot glass as a crisp, pleasant finale to a heavy holiday meal.

4. Tasting fruitcake – wait, this is fruitcake? Change your mind about fruitcake by tasting a famous German stollen – a light, not-too-sweet yeast bread with a firm crust that is filled with delicious nuts and fruits, and usually topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. The most famous German-imported stollen is from Dresden, and this can be found in many supermarkets and specialty stores at Christmastime.

3. Feasting on a gemutlich (that's “cozy”) dinner: Try roasted duck, goose or rabbit on Christmas Eve., following German Christmas tradition. Serve it with potato dumplings, either made from scratch or from a German-imported mix. Or, try spaetzle on the side, a German version of pasta. Top it off with some tangy pickled red cabbage, either made from scratch or from a jar.

2. Laying out an easy Christmas breakfast: Christmas is a busy morning – but with extended family often around, a company-suitable breakfast is necessary. What to do? Try the Germans' take on breakfast by laying out an assortment of German deli meats, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, muesli, yogurt and pastries. This can all be prepared on platters in advance, wrapped and refrigerated until needed – so all you need to do on Christmas morning is make coffee and tea.

1. And finally, remedying a hangover… On New Year's Day or any other time, many Germans swear by smoked or pickled herring as a hangover cure. They usually eat it cold, perhaps on some dark bread with some good German mustard, or marinated in a salad with steamed potatoes and green beans. Several varieties and flavors of preserved herring are available in American supermarkets and specialty stores – look for them in mustard sauce, horseradish sauce, spicy tomato sauce, dill cream sauce and more.

Don't know where to find German foods in your area? Visit the retailer database on for a wide selection of local and online retailers.

More about German Christmas around the Web:

GERMANY "Froehliche Weihnachten"

Christmas Celebration in Germany - Advent Calendars, Tannenbaum & Foods

Origins of Christmas Traditions


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