You may be surprised to find that many holiday traditions that we practice today originated from Germany. Hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree and hiding Easter eggs, for example, are traditions that both originated from Germany. These traditions, as well as many others, are still practised by German children today. Not only are German traditions for kids popular in Germany, but they are popular in many countries around the world as well.
The Advent Calendar
Originally, Der Adventskalender, or the Advent calendar, was designed so that children could participate in the festivities leading up to Christmas. A German invention usually made of cardboard, an Advent calendar has 24 small, sealed windows or flaps designed with a Christmas scene or motif. Children open a window on each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas. When children open a window, they may find a surprise such as a picture, chocolate, candy or a small toy behind the window. Today, the tradition of the Advent calendar is celebrated in other parts of the world.
Saint Nicholas Day
December 6, St. Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus) Day, is celebrated in Germany. Other European countries celebrate it as well, though not always on that date. Children in Germany place clean shoes or stockings in front of a door in their house on the eve of the 6th. The next morning, well-behaved children find that Saint Nicholas has filled the shoes or stockings with goodies such as chocolate and candy. Children who are not well-behaved receive a switch, a flexible rod used in whipping or disciplining, which symbolises punishment for their bad behaviour. This is the similar to the Three Kings tradition celebrated on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas, in some countries such as Spain.
The Easter bonfire is a German tradition that takes place on the night of Easter Sunday. German children light old Christmas trees to create a large bonfire. This tradition is celebrated across the country to welcome the sun and the spring. In the past, this ancient Pagan ritual was believed to yield fruitful fields and to protect households from sickness. Today it is a social gathering that includes a traditional Easter dinner of lamb, chicken and eggs.
The Easter bunny
Eggs and bunnies are two of the oldest symbols of Easter in Germany, which in the past, represented fertility and new birth. As in many other countries, German children hunt for eggs and bunnies on Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, children paint eggs in different colours and patterns and place them in a basket for Osterhase, or the Easter bunny. The Easter bunny visits the house of the children and hides the eggs around the house on the eve of Easter Sunday. The next morning, the children look for the eggs around the house and find sweets and presents left by the Easter bunny.