If I had a bucket list for Christmas destinations, Germany would be near the top. Much of my family is from there, and many of the traditions I loved as a child had their roots in German culture.
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My parents make it a point to travel there at least once every year or two, now that they have the time to do so. I’ve tried to convince them to stow me along, but so far, no luck.
Oh well. We can still have an amazing time learning about the culture, traditions, food, and history of Germany!
Christmas in Germany
Many of the Christmas traditions, songs, and stories that are loved around the world had their start in Germany. From the Middle Ages through the present, this nation has contributed quite a bit in the way of culture, philosophy, art, food, and more.
Learning about German traditions is a great way to learn more about the people, culture, and ideas!
- Germany as we know it today is very much a modern creation. In the Middle Ages, it was just being brought together into a group of smaller states, tribes, and fiefdoms under the authority of the Holy Roman Empire. The history is fascinating – you can read more about it here!
- During this era, the German people built several amazing castles. You can learn more about German knights, castles, kings, and more here.
- Germany became a unified state in the late 1800s – almost a millennium after it was brought together under the Holy Roman Empire! It wasn’t an easy process, though.
- You can find a timeline of the unification process here! It’s a process that took the majority of the 19th century.
- The number of principalities, bishoprics, and other territories in Germany before the unification is incredible, and really interesting. You can read more about it and view maps from the 18th and 19th centuries here.
- Learn about the current geography and regions of Germany. You can click on any of the current states to learn more about them!
- You’ll find a lot of fun activities and facts at National Geographic Kids! https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/countries/germany/#germany-munich-city-scene.jpg
- The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman is a classic children’s story about the Christmas dreams of a German girl. I love the version that’s illustrated by Maurice Sendak – I’ve had mine since I was 9 or 10!
- Frohliche Weihnachten – the author and narrator of this charming book grew up in Germany, so this is a collection of her childhood Christmas memories. It includes 15 songs sung and written in German with English translations!
Some of the most popular Christmas carols were originally written in German. You can learn more about them here.
- Silent Night: In German, this song is “Stille Nacht,” and it’s beautiful to listen to. You can read the lyrics, find out the story behind it, and listen to a German boys’ choir sing this song here.
- O Tannenbaum: The Christmas tree is an important part of German tradition. Find out more about the history of this song, read the German lyrics, and hear a few different versions of it. There’s even one by Nat King Cole!
- You can find several other traditional German carols here, along with their history, lyrics, and videos!
I have so many great memories of my Grandma’s kitchen at Christmas…yum!
- Find plenty of great German recipes at The Spruce! You’ll find options for cookies, desserts, beverages (including some chocolate ones), and even a gingerbread house!
- Find out what a traditional German Christmas dinner is like! (There are related recipes posted in the sidebar.)
- Some wonderful German food traditions, from Advent to Christmas dinner!
- A wonderful list of Christmas traditions designed for younger kids!
- Learn more about German traditions and celebrations at Why Christmas.
- Facts, links, and more at German Way!
- German Christmas traditions span the entire month of December, from Advent and St. Nicholas Day through Epiphany on January 6. Learn more about them here!
Project and Craft Ideas
- 25 different fun projects and tutorials to choose from! (Note: some of the links will take you to German language sites, but the pictures should be easy enough to follow.)
- German Christmas projects designed just for kids!
- A collection of decorations, crafts, and projects to help your kids celebrate a traditional German Christmas!
I’ve designed a Pinterest board specifically for Christmas around the World unit resources. One of the sections is devoted to resources for Germany!
I add to it regularly, so be sure to follow. That way, you’ll be more likely to see updates!
The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet – this Caldecott Honor winning book is designed for younger kids. It makes an excellent supplement to the original story!
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman – another gorgeous version! This one is illustrated by Roberto Innocenti.
I hope you have fun with this study – I know I am! Each weekday through December 23, I’ll be posting a unit study about Christmas traditions in countries around the world.
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