From atmospheric festive markets to Advent calendars, Germany is the birthplace of many much-loved Christmas customs; and here’s no better way to spend this most enchanting time of year than by sipping glühwein beneath a giant Christmas tree in a snow-kissed, medieval town square. Our guide to a traditional German Christmas unearths the festive food and fun to be had, and shows you how to have a very frohe Weihnachten by experiencing the magic in Germany yourself.
The carols, the lights, the stalls. The scent of warm gingerbread in the air. Festive markets are as an integral part of Christmas as Santa Claus, but their origins lie in Germany, when the first fair opened in Dresden in the Middle Ages. No German Christmas is complete without a market visit, and the largest are in Frankfurt’s historic Römerberg, and Nuremburg’s splendid medieval Old Town. Picture a winter wonderland —snowflakes resting on Gothic spires and twinkling fir trees, while fairground rides whirl in a blur of shimmering lights. Aside from basking in the seasonal entertainment, festive markets are a great place to shop for locally-crafted gifts, such as blown-glass ornaments, handmade wooden toys and cosy sheepskin slippers and gloves.
Unapologetically indulgent and rich, food is central to Christmas celebrations in Germany. Unlike other Christmas-celebrating countries, the main meal of roast duck or goose is eaten the night before; on Christmas Eve. But it’s Germany’s moreish sweet treats and sugary delights that inspire good festive cheer. From spiced lebkuchen (heart shaped gingerbread) to candied stollen (fruit and nut cake sprinkled with icing sugar) Germany's yuletide snacks are laden with sugar and festive spice. You’ll be able to pick up traditional confections at Christmas markets and selected delicatessens wherever you are staying during December.
If there’s one drink that epitomises Christmas in Germany, its glühwein — a ruby red wine slowly infused with cinnamon, sugar, cloves and orange. Its festive aroma rises from the commemorative mugs its traditionally from.
Like festive markets, many Christmas traditions celebrated across Europe began in Germany too. The Advent calendar (Adventskalender) began in the 19th century when German protestants would make chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas. Today, Advent calendars feature numbered doors opened on each day of December reveal hidden treats like chocolate or money.
The focal point of any front door or table setting at Christmas in Europe, the Advent wreath is a beautiful circular ornament of fir branches, pinecones, bright red berries and four candles. This decorative tradition was started by German Lutherans in the 16th century when a candle was lit each week until all were lit by the last Sunday before Christmas.
Experience Christmas in Frankfurt
The city of Frankfurt is endlessly captivating at Christmas. The glitzy boutiques along Goethestrasse are perfect for shopping, while the historic Aldstadt is illuminated with shimmering colourful lights. Experience the magic of Christmas in Germany for yourself with Jumeirah Frankfurt
’s Christmas Market package. Located in the heart of the city, the hotel is moments away from the city’s festive fair in Römerburg. Following an afternoon picking up gifts and sipping glühwein at the market, unwind in the Talise Spa’s sauna. The incredible package also includes breakfast for two, a three-course dinner at Max on One Grillroom spa access and a special Christmas amenity.