The Christmas tree
The idea of bringing an evergreen tree indoors and decorating it was first popularized by the German middle class in the early 1800s. The trend was later exported to Britain. Source:
Deck the halls
A village populated with glass blowers - Lauscha, in the state of Thuringia, claims to have made the first glass Christmas tree ornaments in the 1600s. Today there are still over two dozen, often-family-owned businesses making glass decorations in the village. Source:
The original Santa
Old Saint Nick
The real Saint Nicholas was most likely a Christian bishop in ancient Greece - where he is thought to have lived is now part of Turkey. He was renowned for his generosity toward the poor and for his adherence to his faith. On December 6, this forerunner of the modern Santa Claus leaves small gifts in German children's shoes. Source:
Naughty or nice?
This beastly half-demon, half-goat creature accompanies Saint Nicholas in early December. But while the patron saint of children gives out presents, the Krampus punishes those who have not behaved well. The mythical creature is sometimes also known as Knecht Ruprecht. Source:
O Come, All Ye Faithful
The traditional German Christmas market - where neighbours come to socialize and buy trinkets - may well be the country's best-selling seasonal export after the Christmas tree. The biggest market outside of Germany can now be found in Birmingham in the UK. Source:
Mulled wine and Christmas cookies
Merrily on high
One of the delights of the German season is the chance to drink hot, spiced red wine on any gloomy afternoon you like. Many Germans also see the baking of "plätzchen" - little cakes and biscuits - as part of the Christmas ritual. Often, the most-used ingredients - such as slivered almonds, for example - sell out of supermarkets the closer it gets to the 25th. If you can't cook, you can also buy your fair share of sweet treats at the Christmas markets.
In some European households, the Christ Child, or Christkindl, is supposed to bring the gifts, not Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas. This religious figure was popularized by German Protestant reformist Martin Luther in the 16th century. In Nuremberg, a different teenager is chosen to play the role of the Christkindl every two years; she dresses up and opens the Christmas market. Source: