So this is a bit late. But we’re all busy doing holiday things, right?
In Germany many of the loveliest Christmas traditions started, and have remained intact. For example, the Christmas tree. The villagers used to pick out a tree in the nearby forest (forests are always nearby in Germany) and they would tie bits of cloth to the tree’s branches in remembrance of their passed on loved ones. When a German monarch (can’t remember which century, sorry, but probably George I in 1714) travelled to England to take the throne, he ordered a pine tree to be cut down and decorated in the palace at Christmas in honor of this German tradition. Then of course, everyone wanted their own so they could be cool like the royal family.
This deep sense of tradition is one of the reasons I love having Christmas in Germany. And I fully intend to use German traditions rather than American ones in my future family (don’t ask me how I feel about Santa Claus).
One German tradition is to have the parents set up the whole Christmas tree behind closed doors on Christmas eve while the children play, and Germans use candles to light their trees. My boyfriend’s family doesn’t set up the tree on Christmas eve anymore, but they do use candles (in addition to a few regular Christmas lights).
Another tradition is Advent. For each of the four Sundays before Christmas, families spend the evening together, often singing songs and telling stories. They have an advent wreath with four candles, each week lighting another candle (so start with only one lit, then two, etc.). This is another one of my favorite traditions, because I love singing and candlelight. 🙂