Christmas in Germany
Christmas begins on the Nikolaustag (Saint Nicholas’ Day) on the 5 December, when German children leave their shoes or boots outside the door. If they’ve been good they will be filled with presents and treats by Sankt Nikolaus. If they’ve been bad, then they will be filled with bundles of twigs by his companion Knecht Ruprecht (Servant Rupert).
Some parts of the country believe that das Christkind (the Christchild) sends an angel bearing gifts for children on Christmas Eve, whilst others believe it is the work of der Weinachtsmann (the Christmas Man) who dresses like Santa Claus.
It is traditional in some homes for parents to prepare a room for Christmas with festive decorations and treats such as chocolate, marzipan, fruit and nuts. A bell is rung on Christmas Eve which allows the children to enter, and then carols are sung and stories read, and the children open their presents. This happens in the afternoon, before the family attends Christmas Mass.
Christmas Food & Drink
Cologne Christmas market is famous for its many food stalls, and some say the shopping is what you do in between moving between them! Enjoy a host of seasonal treats that taste and smell incredible, from zimsterne (cinnamon biscuits), spekulatus (spicy biscuits) and lebkuchen (gingerbread) to some hearty hirtenbrot (an open sandwich) and even some traditional apple strudel with cream.
You might even like to try reibekuchen (potato and onion fritters), a local delicacy. Glühwein is the standard tipple across many European countries at Christmas and you’ll find plenty of vendors here.
From traditional decorations to handmade toys, you’re sure to find an ideal gift for anyone at the Cologne Christmas market. It’s the ideal chance to grab a last-minute present, or you could always treat yourself!