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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 5. Christmas Eve.
In this lesson we are going to tell you how Christmas Eve, or in German Heiligabend, is celebrated in Germany. This day commemorates the birth of Christ, known as Geburt Jesu Christi, and is always celebrated on December 24. This festival is one of the most important events in the Christian church.
Before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
What is it that most German children have to do before they get their Christmas gifts?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
On Christmas Eve in Germany, shops remain open until around 2pm, and some people use this time for their last-minute Christmas shopping. Since this is not a holiday, employed people need to go to work if they have not taken paid vacation. The time until the distribution of presents serves as preparation time. Who do you think brings the presents? In Germany, it is either Christ Child, in German called Christkind, or Santa Claus, called Weihnachtsmann. Who it is varies from region to region.
December 24 is usually celebrated within the family circle. The proceedings start when the Christmas tree, or in German Weihnachtsbaum, is decorated, the candles are lit, and the gifts are unwrapped. Children wait with longing for this moment and look forward to the gift-giving. At Christmas Eve, some families prefer to have simple meals such as potato salad with sausages, while others prefer more lavish dishes such as goose or duck, well-known as Weihnachtsgans or Weihnachtsente.
Every year the Federal President of Germany provides an official Christmas message, which is televised. Many people attend a church service, which typically takes place at a Christmas mass called Weihnachtsgottesdienst held in the afternoon or with a nativity play in the evening, or at night. A festively decorated Christmas tree and lots of candles brightly illuminate the church, and many well-known carols are sung during the church service, for example: Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, which means “From Heaven, I come here,” O Tannenbaum meaning “O Christmas tree,” Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht which is “Silent Night, Holy Night” and O du fröhliche meaning “O Holy Night.”
In some families, the time for giving gifts is announced by ringing a small bell, causing many children to wait anxiously for this sound on Christmas Eve.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is it that most German children have to do before they get their gifts?
In many families it is common that children first have to recite a poem, sing a song, or play something on an instrument to Santa Claus or the Christ Child—only then are they allowed to unwrap their presents.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do people celebrate Christmas Eve in your country?
Leave a comment letting us know at GermanPod101.com! Until next time!


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GermanPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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How do people celebrate Christmas Eve in your country?

GermanPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 06:24 PM
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Hallo Brianna,

Danke für den Kommentar!

Just a few little corrections: Wir haben einen Weihnachtsbaum in Amerika. Meine Familie hat einen Weihnachtsmann für die Kinder. Es gibt Süßes und wir essen Truthahn. (Turkey the country is die Türkei, turkey the bird is der Truthahn.)

Vielen Dank!


Team GermanPod101.com

Tuesday at 08:16 AM
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In Amerika, wir haben ein Weihnachtsbaum! Mein Familia hat ein Weihnachtsmann fur die Kinder. Das ist suß und wir essen Turkei. Entschuldigung, mein (in america we have a christmas tree! my family had a santa claus for the children. There is sweets and we eat turkey. I'm sorry, my) spelling may not be right on some of the words, im much better at speaking lol

GermanPod101.com Verified
Friday at 12:11 PM
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Hi Christine Lindner,

Thank you for posting and for sharing that with us.

Please, let us know if you have questions or suggestions.

Kind regards,


Team GermanPod101.com

Christine Lindner
Wednesday at 07:52 AM
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My mum comes from Germany and she told me you did research very well how Germans celebrate this day. Christmas eve was exactly as as you described it. :thumbsup:

Children were sent in the afternoon outside to do some snow activities while the Christmas tree, a real tree (Tannenbaum) with bees wax candles was decorated by adults in the lounge room. This room was locked all day. The children saw the tree for the first time after the bell rang and they had played or sung a Christmas carol or recited a Christmas poem. Aditionally the Christmas story was read from the bible.