(photo by dreamstime)
Anyone who lives (or has lived) in Germany knows that Germans are pros at celebrating the Christmas season. I discovered this truth when I first traveled to Berlin as a teenager, and again when I worked as an au pair in south Germany. Currently, I am experiencing another lovely (albeit cold!) Christmas season in Germany with my husband and three children, and it is as gorgeous now as it ever has been.
Au pairs – especially those in countries with very traditional holiday celebrations – are lucky in that they get to experience the wonders of the holidays in a whole new way. For those working in Germany as au pairs, this probably includes the Adventszeit, or the weekly count down to Christmas, which includes lighting a candle on the advent wreath each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Each candle represents something relating to the coming of Jesus’ birth, including hope, preparation, joy, and love (some times there is even a fifth candle, which represents Christ himself). I love that although religion and faith do not tend to play a huge part of modern Germany, the rich church history of the country still influences people in a good way.
St. Nikolaus Tag is another part of the German Christmas tradition that au pairs and other foreigners in Germany get to enjoy. The tradition is that on the morning of December 6, children who have behaved will awake to find their shoes, which are filled with candy, fruits, and nuts. Au pairs who have thoughtful host parents will also wake up to either a small gift or, if they are lucky, some delicious German chocolate!
Christmas markets are another one of the benefits of living in Germany. Even though it is cold, it is more than worth bearing the elements to experience what I consider the best part of Christmas in Germany. The Christmas markets are collections of vendors with stands made out of tiny wooden houses. You can buy anything from roasted, sugared almonds, to hats and gloves, Christmas decorations, and more. And of course – as everyone in Germany knows – no visit to a Christmas market is complete without at least one glass of German spiced wine!
If you are currently an au pair in Germany, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the rest of the season! But where ever it is you find yourself this season, enjoy the winter holidays and make the most of the season!