A few days ago, I was out starting my Christmas shopping, when surprisingly, I discovered how difficult it was to find boxes of Christmas cards and candy canes. If you’re looking for chocolate Santas, no problem – there’s about 3 aisles of them of different sizes and brands to your liking….but Christmas cards are always sold individually. Ditto with candy canes, which I’ve only really seen sparingly at the Christmas market, and have yet to find at any supermarket.
After asking some German friends, it turns out that these seemingly popular Christmas cards are actually a British tradition, and in Germany, it’s not very common to mail Christmas cards to all your family, friends, and if you’re feeling nice, your crazy neighbour. Instead, Germans tend to just buy one or two Christmas cards individually to give to people. Crazy, right?!
Then I asked some of my German friends about candy canes…their answers ranged from, “what’s that?’, to “no, I’ve never had one.” Oddly intrigued, I asked some of my German students at the Gymnasium I work at, and the majority have never had one either!
Of course, the fact that I’ve never had Glühwein or a Lebkuchenherz until this year is probably as equally shocking for them.
Other than chocolate Santas though, another thing that’s super popular in Germany are advent calendars. Now if there’s ever a nation of people who take advent calendars to an extreme level of seriousness, it’s the Germans. Although to be fair, they did invent them.
I remember shopping with my friend Moritz at the Kaufhof (which is a popular department store here) and I was amazed by the rows and tables of displays that were covered with advent calendars. One the lower end, you can buy one of those cheap little ones for about 2 euros, and then you have these massive, luxury advent calendars made with Lindt or Swiss chocolate for around 30 euros. For the girls, there’s the advent calendars filled with make-up or bath lotions, and of course my favourite, the beer advent calendar – a massive calendar, which you can open every day to find a different bottle of beer! (Good luck putting that in the fridge) Even my friend was impressed by that one….and he’s German!
And although this is a day late, Happy St. Nicolas Day everyone! Yesterday, I went to my first ever St. Nicolas party, and somehow managed to speak in German to everyone there. I don’t know if my German has been drastically improving, or because Glühwein happens to have some magical properties…