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Christmas Traditions In Germany
Germany has numerous traditions that it shares with the 9 neighboring countries that abut it. They also have quite a few that they have started themselves.
In the United States children write their letters to Santa Claus and mail them to the North Pole with their respective wish lists. In some other countries the children will write their letters and throw them in the fire so that the smoke will take their lists to Santa at the the North Pole.
German children have a slightly different tradition though. They write their letters to the Christkind or Christ Child. They seal them in envelopes and decorate the envelope with sugar and glue to make them glitter in the moon light. They then place them on the windowsill where their parents usually pick them up to leave the appearance that the Christkind has stopped by to receive them.
Another tradition is for the children to fill their shoes with hay, straw and carrots and leave them out in front of the door. They are trying to tempt Saint Nicholas to stop and feed his white stallion. He will then repay them by refilling their shoes with candy and toys.
The tradition of the Christmas tree was started in Germany and Christmas trees are quite popular there. How the tradition of the Christmas tree started is a matter of much debate.
The first tale is of a wood cutter who encountered a lone hungry child while out cutting trees. He befriended and fed the child. After the meal the child continued on his way. The next day the child appeared to the wood cutter and his wife as a spirit and thanked him for his kindness. He then explained that he was the Christ Child, Christkind to the Germans.
He gave the wood cutter a sprig from an evergreen tree and explained that this tree would bear fruit year round. This lead to the German's felling evergreen trees and decorating them with ribbons, candies, etc. to celebrate the Christkind.
The other tale of how the Christmas tree came about is attributed to Martin Luther. He supposedly brought in an evergreen tree one year from outside and decorated it with candles. The candles were to represent the light of Jesus Christ and the heavens according to tradition.
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