With only seven weeks until Christmas we are starting to feel very festive. Until I moved to the UK I had no idea how present my own culture became at Christmas time. The Christmas markets are called “German markets” and you can find German Christmas goodies in supermarkets. But how much of it is authentic? How do the Germans really celebrate Christmas?

1. Christmas treats

The best thing about Christmas is the anticipation. And the sweet Christmas treats. Stollen, coconut macaroons, vanilla biscuits, Lebkuchen, Pfeffernüsse (a drier version of Lebkuchen with a sugar glacing), Dominosteine (little confect with a layer of gingerbread cake, marzipan and jam), Spekulatius (very similar in taste to our speculoos biscuits), marzipan potatoes, the list is endless! Many of the treats you can find in supermarkets or at the German market. Many of them however are made to last, not very fresh, too sweet and dry. It fills me with pride that we now offer German Christmas treats at their best, homemade in Leeds.

2. Christmas celebration

In Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the evening of the 24th of December (we just can’t wait!). The meal is rather simple, like fish or sausages and potato salad. On the 25th, most families eat goose or duck, very rarely turkey. In some regions of Germany, Father Christmas brings the presents, in others (where I am from), the Christkind brings the presents. The Christkind is baby Jesus, in the form of an angel. So it is a girl really with curly blond hair. This did not confuse me when I was a child. It does now. We only decorate the Christmas tree very close to Christmas and most families have real trees. People remove the trees from their lounge by the 6th of January.

3. Christmas markets

In the UK people call them German markets. In Germany they are known as „Weihnachtsmarkt“ (Christmas market) or Christkindelsmarkt. They usually run between the end of November up until the 23rd of December. Most people go there to eat and drink mulled wine. German Christmas markets don’t only offer mulled grape wine, but also sweet mulled berry wine like blueberry or cherry wine, delicious! There is however, no beer tent at a Christmas market in Germany, you will only find them at beer festivals during summer. Mulled wine is needed to warm you up, German winters are coooold! Nuremberg, my home town, is famous for its Christmas market. This means that it gets very busy, but the setting is beautiful.

How do you celebrate Christmas and what is your favourite Christmas treat?

Written by Saskia Roskam

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