Holiday Storytellers
Around the World
Germany


The German yuletide season is a magical time when friends and family rejoice in the closing of the year. It is a period laden with rich customs and traditions.

According to legend, the first Christmas tree originated with St. Boniface who brought Christianity to Germany during the 8th century. On Christmas Eve, St. Boniface learned that the eldeest son of Chieftan Gundhar was to be sacrificed to the pagan god, Thor, beneath a giant oak.


With one stroke of an axe, St. Boniface felled the oak, and an evergreen miraculously appeared in its place. The pious Boniface explained that the evergreen represented the Christkindl (Christ Child) and should be forever revered in homes at Christmas time.

 

The German Christmas begins in early December when St. Nicholas, a messenger for Christkindl, visits homes to leave treats in the shoes of good children. Naughty children receive a bundle of twigs, a strong incentive to improve their ways.


On Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), German parents secretly decorate the Tannenbaum (Christmas tree). After this, the children are allowed to see both the tree, festooned with twinkling lights. and the colorfully wrapped gifts from the Christkindl. The Tannenbaum is a wonderful reminder of the season's true messages: giving, happiness and goodwill.


The text is from the Holidays Around the World Information provided at Epcot.