German and US Christmas Traditions

it looks genuinely frightening. hey guys
what’s up it’s Kelly again and welcome back to my channel. today’s video is
going to be all about my favorite holiday which is Christmas I’m going to
talk about some German Christmas traditions and my personal experiences
with those traditions and then I’m also going to talk about my family’s
Christmas traditions because I feel like they’re a little different from what you
might see American families doing in movies and TV shows or what you may have
heard about and my parents lived in Christmas for a little they didn’t live
in Christmas guys that’s that’s literally not possible my parents lived
in Germany for a little bit of time and my mom adopted a lot of German Christmas
traditions and then also we just have some of our own unique ones so I think
it’ll be interesting for you guys to hear about those but don’t worry I’m not
gonna talk about a pickle in the Christmas tree because I’m pretty sure
at this point. that’s an American tradition that all
the Americans just think is a German tradition and it’s not much like German
chocolate cake. the first one I’m going to talk about is st. Nicholas Day. Saint
Nicholas Day is celebrated on the 6th of December and the night before all of the
children are supposed to put out their clean shoes outside of their bedroom
door and then Saint Nicholas will come by and put in their shoes some candy
some treats maybe some small toys for the children to wake up to the next
morning. this is a tradition that my mom adopted and so every fifth of December
my sister and I were putting our shoes outside of our bedroom door
for Saint Nicholas to come by and drop some stuff into them and I never really
understood why I was doing this when all of my friends at school were not
celebrating Saint Nicholas day but I was a candy loving kid I still am and so I
was more than willing to put my shoes out so that I could get some treats
before Christmas. my mom is still really amped about this holiday and even though
my sister and I don’t live at home anymore she’s still always calling my
sister texting her to remind her of the 5th of December to have her kids put out
their shoes so that my sister can fill them with candy and toys. advent
calendars are a huge huge deal from what I saw in Germany there were stores all
across Germany selling all different types of advent
calendars and I even saw some people making their own advent calendars. by the
way some people on Instagram asked me if Misha made me an advent calendar this
year and I’m sad to say that he did not so now I have something to give him crap
about I even had a co-worker in Germany give
me an advent calendar for Christmas which was a first for me they’re just there in
the US but they’re just not as popular as they are in Germany. what is becoming
more popular in the US though are more adult-themed advent calendars so you’ll
see one where each day you get a different bottle of beer or a different
bottle of liquor I’ve even seen intimate toy themed advent calendars. Aldi or Aldi
as Germans say is a store that’s also in the US and they were selling a wine
advent calendar and guys this was in such demand that there were people lined
up outside of the Aldis here in at least in the DC area about an hour or even
longer before the store opened so that they could make sure that they were able
to get a wine advent calendar before they ran out. I think they were about
seventy dollars each and every day you got a little mini bottle of wine and so
these are what are becoming more and more popular more so than like the
children versions. growing up my parents never gave us advent calendars. that
wasn’t really a concept my sister and I were aware of instead we had other ways
to count down until Christmas my mom had this little calendar that was made of a
green fabric with a little Christmas scene on it and there were a bunch of
pockets each marked with a day for December and there was a little stuffed
mouse that you would move from pocket to pocket as he got closer and closer to
Christmas. my sister and I would also make paper garland out of red and green
construction paper where we would craft 25 rings and loop them together and then
each day we would wake up and tear a ring off of the garland and then as you
got closer to Christmas obviously the garland would get smaller and smaller
with fewer and fewer rings. so my sister and I didn’t really do advent calendars
we just had other ways of doing that same concept.
Krampus Run. this looks wild
Krampus Run is really popular in Austria and some other countries but it
isn’t really done so much in Germany except for I think Bavaria but I really
wanted to talk about it in this video because it is just so interesting to me
I had never heard of the Krampus tradition until my friend Silvana who’s
from Austria told me all about it. so on different days in early December or
maybe even late November everyone in the village or town will come to the city
centre for a sort of parade where there will be people dressed up as Krampus
characters where the dominant feature is a very scary looking wooden mask the
parade will also feature Saint Nicholas but while the role of Saint Nicholas is
to focus on the good children the role of the Krampus is to focus on the bad
children. the Krampus characters will walk around and hand out coal to
children and maybe even pull their hair or hit them with switches or take them
away from their parents or scare them in some way and the whole idea is to scare
bad children into being good. it looks genuinely frightening. after Silvana
showed me a video about it I really wanted to see it because it looks so
cool but unfortunately I haven’t been able to be in Germany in the regions
where it happens at the right time yet so it’s on my bucket list I hope to get
there one day. I heard it’s getting a little bit more commercialized than what
people would prefer probably because of people like me is seeing YouTube videos
of it and wanting to see it for themselves but it looks like a really
really cool tradition. something that every American who has ever been to
Germany in the month of December will remember is the magic of the Christmas
Markets. most villages towns and cities in Germany will have a Christmas market
which ranges in size depending on how big the city is but it will usually
include booths selling different gifts and treats and drinks like gluhwein
gluhwein is a warmed wine that is spiced with cinnamon and cloves and some added
citrus and you can get red or white but I feel like red was way more popular at
least that is my perception. it’s usually served in
these little mugs with the name of the Christmas market and year inscribed on it
and I felt like getting gluhwein at the Christmas market sort of took center
stage of all social outings. during December in Germany people will meet at
the Christmas market to share a gluhwein or start or end their night with a
glühwein at the christmas market and so on. I drank a lot of glühwein when I was
in Germany and fortunately my friend Silvana who I mentioned earlier and her
husband Nick put together this really fun day of christmas market hopping
where we bought a group rheinland-pfalz train ticket and we went to like five or
six different christmas markets within the region all in one day. it was a blast
and definitely one of my favorite memories from when I was living in
Germany. so I understand that in Germany its traditional to open up all of your
gifts on Christmas Eve versus Christmas Day and there are some American families
who will allow the members of the family to pick out one gift to be able to open
on Christmas Eve and then they’ll open up the rest on Christmas Day well my mom
was having none of that. we definitely had to wait until Christmas Day to open
up all of our gifts and to go even further my mom was really really strict
about the regimented way in which we opened our gifts so we had a little
rotation established and each of us would open one gift one at a time so we
could all appreciate each other’s reactions to the gifts and thanked each
other properly for the gifts and looking back it was a really nice way of doing
it because I’ve seen some families where it’s just an absolute free-for-all and I
feel like everything kind of gets lost in the shuffle and it doesn’t really
seem as much of like a bonding tradition as what it felt like in my family. we
also opened up all of our gifts that were with our stockings after dinner
during dessert and this was done far more informally so we didn’t have this
rotation at all. we were able to just like open our gifts because it was
usually chocolate and candy and maybe some gifts like chapstick and things
like that. okay so I mentioned in my one German Train video how I kept noticed
these letter number combinations written in chalk above certain doors throughout
Germany especially where I was living in Mainz and I didn’t know what that meant
but thankfully some of my viewers told me what it meant so now I know that it
is related to the holiday Epiphany. Epiphany is a legal holiday in certain
areas of Germany and it’s celebrated on January 6 and it is strongly rooted in
religion. children might be given gifts from the three wise men on this day, star
singers or sternsingers go door to door to collect money for charity
projects, and then any home that offers a donation will be given a chalked
blessing. I’ve read that the letters CMB stand for a Latin phrase to mean may
Christ bless this house and I’ve also read that it stands for the three wise
men’s names. a german website about star singers indicated that nearly 300,000
Germans will celebrate this holiday in the fashion that I just described and
I’ve just never really seen this in the US. I mean I’m not religious myself so maybe
I’m not aware of it happening… I know that there are people who celebrate
epiphany but it’s definitely not well known like it seems to be in Germany at
least. another tradition in Germany is the Christmas angel. Christmas angel
decorations are found all throughout Germany around Christmas time and some
Germans even top their christmas tree with a Christmas angel. this is another
tradition that my mom adopted so whereas all of my friends were having their
Christmas trees topped with stars my mom was putting a Christmas angel on top of
her Christmas tree. in Germany as it gets closer and closer to Christmas you start
seeing stollen everywhere. in fact there’s an entire fest dedicated to stolen held
in Dresden every year stollen is a cake like bread and it often has nuts and
candied fruits but my favorite and the flavor I associate most with stollen is
the kind with marzipan added. I’ve seen stollen sold all over the US but I think
that fruitcake might be more commonly known although it’s often made fun of
for just not tasting very good. I personally really like the taste of
stollen and I do not like fruitcake. please do not give me a fruitcake. I
don’t want it. before I get into my family’s Christmas traditions I want to
talk about Elf on the Shelf for a second. I have no idea if Elf on the Shelf is a
popular thing in Germany if it exists at all outside of the US but this thing has
taken over the US by storm and I thought that the trend would wear out a couple
of years ago but it is still going very very strong. I don’t think a day passes
in December where I don’t see someone posting a photo of Elf on the Shelf on
my Facebook and there’s all sorts of memes and like reddit posts and so on
showing some very very creative ways parents have come up with to use their
elf on the shelf so elf on the shelf if you don’t know is a book and it comes
with a little elf figurine and the idea is that you read the book to the kid and
you set the Elf on the Shelf and then every night after the kid goes to bed
you move the elf and so that way when the kid wakes up and sees that the elf
has moved the kid thinks that the elf is real. like I said I don’t know if this
is a thing outside of the US so if you’re not American can you write in the
comments if you’ve ever heard of Elf on the Shelf before beyond maybe some
random memes that have popped up on your reddit account because I’m really
curious if this is just like an American thing it is trending hard here. alright
so on to my family’s Christmas traditions. guys words cannot describe
the passion my mom has for Christmas this woman loves Christmas it’s her
favorite holiday and she goes big. first of all she plasters the entire house
with Christmas decorations to the point where every corner of every room becomes
Christmas themed right after Thanksgiving but her most notable and
prized decor is her Christmas village. now I tried to find the origin of
Christmas village and I found some conflicting information some attributed it
to Germany more specifically German immigrants that came to the US and some
attributed it to Pennsylvania of all places which is the state that I’m from so that
was kind of strange but regardless of the origin, my mom has made setting up
Christmas village into her own form of art. it started out relatively small with
some homemade houses and buildings but it has turned into a massive undertaking. her village has a brewery, it has wine and cheese shops, it
has a hunting lodge, a Christmas tree farm, and it even has a German style
Christmas market complete with a guy pushing a cart selling heisse wurstchen.
you could spend a lot of time looking at my mother’s Christmas village to find
all of the little details that she’s worked into it and still be surprised
the next time that you look at it. it is really impressive and while my sister
and I were always helping her to decorate the Christmas tree the
Christmas village was understandably hands off for the children that was all
my mom another tradition that my mom has is setting up Santa’s runway. so she
would give my sister and i candles in little decorative tins and we would go
out to the sidewalk leading up to our house and set them along the path and
the idea of it was so that Santa could see the runway to our house. and then
another thing she would do was give us little ziplock bags full of oats and
glitter and then my sister and I would go out to the yard and throw the glitter
sprinkling it around to make sure that the reindeer didn’t miss our house
because they would both see the glitter and smell the oats and actually she
wasn’t the one that would give us these little bags of it would say glitter
Peter D Elf would give us the little bags of oats and glitter. who’s Peter D
Elf? Peter D Elf is a character that my mother completely invented and my sister
and I would write letters back and forth not just with Santa but also with Peter
D Elf and a number of other Christmas characters that my mom completely
fabricated. she had an entire cast of people that we would write letters to
like Peter D Elf as I mentioned we would talk to Mrs. Clause, we would talk to the
girl elves, we would talk to Barney the elf, we would talk to some of the reindeer
and each of them would write back to us and then they would give us gifts on
Christmas day so that all of the gifts weren’t just given from Santa and each
character had its own sort of genre of gift that they would give my sister and
I so Mrs. Clause would always give us
clothes, the girl elves would always give us really girly things,
Barney would always give us books and now I’m wondering if Barney was named
after Barnes and Nobles if that’s where she got the idea, Peter D Elf would give
us sort of random things, and then Santa would always give us the bigger gifts.
when emails started yes I’m old enough to remember when email started
she made an account for Peter D Elf and then we were able to email back and
forth with him instead of writing letters so the whole Elf on the Shelf
thing that I mentioned earlier is cute and all but I feel really really lucky
that I had my mom who put in so much effort into making Christmas really
special for my sister and I and looking back it is really impressive how much
effort she put into it because she had a full-time job and was taking care of us
and my dad basically a third child so kudos to my mom guys. I just want to
quickly talk about just a few more Christmas traditions in my family. my mom
really likes to decorate her tree with unique ornaments she doesn’t like to go
and get all the matching bulbs from the store like some people decorate their
tree with and so every year she would buy a Christmas ornament and gift us
each with our own very unique ornament that we would decorate the tree with and
I kind of took on this in my own little way instead of buying a Christmas
ornament once a year for myself everywhere I travel to I try to buy a
Christmas ornament and it’s really fun then because when I bring out my tree
and I start decorating I get to kind of relive those memories and remember all
of the places that I’ve been to. a lot of families in the US will have for
Christmas dinner a turkey or a ham but my mom was always really sick of making
basically the same meal that she just made the month before for Thanksgiving
and so many years ago she decided to just scratch the whole turkey ham thing
and she started doing her own thing and she calls it Christmas Around the World
and she and my dad basically pick out a country and then my mom will
feverishly look up all of the traditional Christmas foods that that
country will have for Christmas or any other special
occasion if they don’t predominantly celebrate Christmas and then that’s what
we will eat for our Christmas dinner so we’ve been to places like Greece and
China we’ve been to Italy Germany of course and so on for Christmas dinner.
which i think is such a cool idea. and lastly it’s a big thing at least in the
US for people to send each other Christmas cards and some people will
just buy a manufactured card and write your name and then sign it some people
will get their own cards made with photos of their family or themselves and
then some people will include a Christmas letter which basically recaps
what the year was like for that family or that person. my mom does a Christmas
letter every year and it is a very big deal and she tries to make it a little
different every year by getting creative. so one year she used frames of a cartoon
to basically explain what our family had done over the past year and another year
she wrote it from the perspective of the dog so it was written as though the dogs
were writing out what had happened to us throughout the year. so it’s really fun
for her to do this and then to find out who’s she’s sending a Christmas letter
to every year she keeps a very very intense Christmas address list. it’s a
lot easier now that we have email and Facebook and so on to find out people’s
addresses but back in the heyday of my mom’s Christmas address list she kept it
meticulously and any time she received some correspondence from someone and
noticed their address was different she would go and change it out on the
Christmas card list even if she got this letter in like March and no one’s
thinking about Christmas my mom is thinking about Christmas and then also
she would keep track of who sent her a card every year and if you went two
years in a row without sending my family a card you were stricken from the list
my mother would ruthlessly remove you and you were dead to the Christmas card
list until you sent another Christmas card and if you’re all wondering I’m not
on the Christmas card list anymore but my mom has to send me one because I’m
her daughter. all right guys that’s all I’ve got for you today I mean it’s
actually not got for you today I could talk about
Christmas for several more hours but I’ll put a pin in the topic for now if
you like this video don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and guys please write in
the comments what your favorite Christmas tradition is and ensure that
you write what country you’re from. there are people from all over the world
watching my channel and I really want to learn what sort of Christmas traditions
you celebrate in your country and it’s very difficult to discern what country
you’re from based on your little avatar and handle so make sure you put what
country you’re from. don’t forget to subscribe to my channel if you haven’t
yet thank you so much my patrons for the support you’ve given me and a special
thanks to Amy for letting me use her footage that she took while she was in
Salzburg celebrating Krampus night that was so cool. thanks guys! I’ll see you
next time bye! hey guys make sure you follow me on the
instagram at Kelly does her thing so that you can follow me through my
stories I hope to see y’all there

100 thoughts on “German and US Christmas Traditions”

  1. Hey guys! I hope you don’t mind me uploading reeeaaally early this week! I wish you all the happiest of holidays! <3

  2. In Ireland and I think maybe the UK the elf on the shelf is HUGE. In Ireland the national Postal Service cashed in this year and sell special postcards and stamps so the elf’s and kids can write back and forth.

  3. In answer to your Elf question: No. I have never seen the elf on the shelf in Germany. Some people have heard of it, but there is not much sympathy for it. There are even some who think the elf thing is most like "black pedagogy", that is, threatening a child to elicit good behaviour.

  4. Hi Kelly. I've never heard of Elf on the shelf. I live in Belgium. 😉 And it is true: Weihnachtenmarkten in Germany are amazing. Every year we go to the Christmasmarkets in Köln. And every time I buy new (extra) ornaments there. 😍 And for the rest: we have also Saint-Nicolas (6th of December) or Saint-Martin (on the 11th of November) according which area you live in. Crampus does not exist here. We have black Pete (he is Saint-N/M friend (like Santa's little helper) and he is black, because he needs to crawl into chimneys, he is a naughty one and does funny things, but when kids have been naughty he puts them into a large bag and then they get nothing (that is the whole idea, but the last couple of years the bag is disappeared, because activists think this is not child friendly). We also have adventkalenders, write Christmascards and have also Christmasmarkets, but non can compete with Köln. And since this year the christstollen are starting to become a big thing here (thanks to Aldi).

  5. Oh, that's cute to hear that some German heritage (Nikolaus Tag, Adventskalender, Weihnachtsdorf) survives in the US. I have so many lovely relatives in the US. They are more German than we are.. really nice to see. May I ask if your mom is "first generation immigrants" or did she keep the tradition from her ancestors? It is nice having traditions. They will always remind us of those who loved us. Merry Christmas Kelly!

  6. Well, the Friday's morning tea took time but my promise shall be fulfilled! To begin with, there is a big controversy on Santa Claus between the Protestants and the Catholics. Why? – The Catholics have their Saint Nicholas' Day on the 6th of December and the Christmas Eve has nothing to do with Santa. We must go back into the history of Europe and the schism into Catholic and Protestant churches to understand it: The Christmas Eve was originally an austere celebration day, the last one before the birth of the savior on the 25th of December. Therefore the feasts in the Catholic regions are restricted: No meat, no flesh! In fact, you should fast the whole day and eat only in the evening. The restriction not to eat meat is circumvented by eating poultry or fish (more to this point later). Thus, in the times before the schism the Christmastime was far more modest: The Christmas Eve was a fast day and the two days thereafter were a celebration of the Nativity, even them with food restrictions (Christmas goose on the 25th). The celebration which was the occasion to give presents to the children was the Saint Nicholas' Day – he was allegedly the gift bringer to the children, and so is he in the Catholic regions till today. The children there have two days to receive presents in December: "Santa" comes on the 6th, and on the 24th or 25th comes the Christ Child! The Protestants suspended all the saints so they moved the present giving day to the Nativity and didn¨t care about any goblin Santa in red coat who somehow survived and kept giving presents – and the Catholics had to counter so they invented Christ Child and kept Saint Nicholas (in his traditional red coat).

    That's the reason why on the Christmas market in Nuremberg (one of the places in Europe where I'm at home) they have the "Christkind". Yeah, by the Catholics it's the Jesus himself who brings the presents! 😉 Nicholas, who became less important, brings to the children moralities (he appears with a devil in chains and an angel) and sweeties for their promise to be good. BTW Nuremberg is on the edge between Catholics and Protestants, therefore such a huge mess there. – In the former Danube Monarchy, where I live now, the things are clearer: Nicholas comes on the eve of the 6th, on the Christmas Eve the Christ Child comes and then we have to wait until the Twelfth Night. Well, in the meantime, there is a heretic calendar celebration – which was wisely occupied by the Catholics: the New Year's Eve is the Day of St. Sylvester. 😀

    So far about the differences between the Catholics and the Protestants. Now let's take it easier: I live in Czech republic and here the Christmas traditions are as follows: It's common to ignite one by one the 4 candles during the Advent; it's common to disguise as Nicholas, devil or angel somewhere in the time when the Advent begins and go to play a theater for neighbor's children; it's common to try not to eat much on the 24th but then have an abundant dinner. The dinner consists in the most cases of fish (carp) soup, fried carp with potato salad and lots of appetizers before and sweets afterwards. Many families try to keep alive the pagan traditions like foretelling the year by nutshells with little candles swimming in water etc. and it's pretty common to hang a branch of mistletoe over the door and to kiss persons (of the opposite sex) who you meet there, like if you were lovers – that's for the luck in love in the upcoming year. Regarding the explanation of the carps which I announced above, in the southern part of Bohemia – but even another regions in the Czech republic – were built the technically most advanced ponds and pond systems, I believe, the whole landscape is a part of the Unesco heritage today. The carps were therefore a big export article some 500 years ago and left a trace as a fast meal till today.

    Greetings to the States, Kelly, and I hope that my essay merits at least two Glühwein! ;-))

  7. Actually the tree IS German and the USA got it from German immigrants. The UK well knows that it got the idea from Prince Albert. He was German, married his cousin Queen Victoria, brought some traditions with him and the big one that caught on was having a Christmas tree. Everyone wanted to copy the royals.

    On which point, Victoria has a lot to answer for – the tradition of a bride wearing a white dress comes from her getting married to Albert in white. At least it does in the UK. And having a tiered wedding cake consisting of rich fruit cakes iced in white is another instance of copying the royals because Victoria had one. Though I rather like that couples these days are shaking that one off. What if you don't like fruit cake? Then don't have one, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Meghan ordered a lemon and elderflower-flavoured cake. Sounds yummy.

    If I may digress even further from Christmas for a moment, the controversial part of that wedding was the preacher. The "British Establishment" expects a nice short inoffensive little address, but the couple invited Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, to do the honours. Oh boy, that man can preach. It was what I'd call a proper sermon, I can still remember the theme, which was "the power of love", and he just talked about that and illustrated it in many different ways. It ran over time but you just can't make real preaching run to time, not when the preacher is in full enthusiastic flow like he was. Obviously he'd been given an indication of time limit – at one point he realised he would go over and said "we gotta get y'all married!" – but you can't just cut him off, and he took the time to finish in the way he wanted to. Good on him.

    Mmmmm… glühwein, or mulled wine as we Brits call it – very popular at parties and yes it's always red.

    Opening presents on Christmas Eve is something the British royal family do because of their German heritage, but that's one that didn't catch on with the rest of us!

    CMB – traditionally, though the Bible doesn't name them, the names of the three Magi are Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. The Bible doesn't even say there were three, that just gets assumed because they brought three gifts. (At one point I seemed to be making a career out of doing the reading from Luke at carol services so I DO know what it says, and maybe more importantly, what it DOESN'T say!) "Epiphany" comes from Greek, it means "manifestation" or "appearance", and the festival can be called "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles", which it was – they were the first non-Jews to see the baby.

    "Elf on the shelf" – never heard of it.

    So much of Christmas tradition isn't Christian at all, it's pagan, and in the early days, the Church didn't mark it at all. Nobody has any idea if it is even on the right date (the best guess from research is Jesus was probably born in September) and THE big church festival is Easter. Consider that the key point of Christianity is that "we can all be forgiven for our sins because Jesus died for us and rose from the dead so sin is no longer a thing if you believe in him", and that's Easter.

    So the longest church service of the year for Catholics is the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. My German ex was brought up Catholic, and one year we went along to his local Catholic church for it – he didn't feel like going on his own. It happens to be an abbey so it's a combined parish church and monastery, and they do the WHOLE thing as laid down in the missal including all nine Bible readings. It's certainly an experience but 3 hours later, that was the end of him ever wanting to go again! I think I was less surprised than him as I'd read it up in the missal first.

    The Church only started doing Christmas because it was about the same time as all the winter solstice festivals in other religions, such as the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia and the northern European Yule, and maybe that would help them to convert to Christianity.

    Talking of loony family traditions, my late grandad loved word games, complicated card games (he taught me cribbage though I can't remember it now as I haven't found anyone else to play it with in 30 years), all that stuff… So Santa Claus, Claus sounds like claws, my sister and I would get presents from "Daddy Talons". Or even Mummy Talons to show it was from Grandma.

    Of course the UK doesn't do Thanksgiving so we don't have "we just did that only a month ago". Christmas is turkey day. British supermarkets about now are all exhibiting huge amounts of the expected vegetables to go with it – went out shopping yesterday and of course there were huge amounts of potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips. Of course they'll be selling all the leftovers cheap next week – so that's my time to make up big batches of stew to store in the freezer. Cheap home-made dinners for the next few months, here I come!

    Christmas letters – now from a British point of view this is incredibly pompous and cheesy, But sometimes there is a point to it. My Mum has a cousin who emigrated to Australia with her family over 40 years ago, and for many years with no Internet, their letter in their Christmas card was the only way we knew what's going on "down under". This really makes me feel old… the last time I ever saw her sons was when we were all about 8 and playing board games, including "Escape from Colditz" which I gave to them because nobody else would play it with me. Both of them ended up in the Australian military, one has now joined the police, and being now in their 50s like me they're thinking towards retirement. Both married girls called Kim – how confusing is that? I only know all this because of those annual letters. Email makes it so much easier and cheaper now. Mum and her cousin skyped once but when it's 10 1/2 hours time difference, that takes a bit of arranging!

    It is what it is – an excuse for a good time in deepest winter when the days get to their shortest. My Mum was born on the winter solstice so Christmas 4 days later makes it less of a depressing time for her than it could be.

  8. Your Family has a lot of nice and cool Christmas tradition. Especially Peter D Elf is very nice, sweet, good and cool. I hope, your mom will may one day write a book of all the Christmas Charakters your family knows.

  9. I'm from the US. My mother's mom is Italian and her dad German (mostly). My father's side is Swedish, Scottish and Irish. I don't think any of them celebrated any 'family traditions'. In my family…. The kids get a new pair of pajamas or nightgown to wear on Christmas Eve so that they look fresh and Christmasy the next morning. And they get to open one package the night before Christmas. On Christmas morning, you can look in your stocking and you can eat anything you find in it. You don't have to wait for that. On Christmas morning, someone passes out the packages and then everyone takes turns opening them. Guess who gets to keep track of all the paper! And there is a package for whoever finds the pickle. Yes, we have a pickle on the tree. Whoever finds it gets an extra package. In years when I was healthy, I got the kids in bed and went to midnight Mass. No, I didn't leave them alone. In my old age, I can't get there. I still have a 10 year old at home. This is the first year that he'll be the only child. It's just Koda and I this year. So, I'm trying to figure out the pickle thing cause I know I'll win!
    Merry Christmas!

  10. Oh my god, your mothers christmas village! Sooooo pleasant to look at 🙂
    It was nice learning about the christmas traditions in the USA, thank you for making this video!

  11. THANK YOU Kelly – that statement about the pickle. I had a long research about that- couldn't find anything.
    Advent Calendar: Well, for me an old tradition, but it extended so much over the years. When I was a child, we ALL had a advent calendar made of paper, with a little picture behind each door. Some of them had a opak back, so you could place a candle behind to better see the pictures. These calendars with candy or gifts in – they are pretty new for me. When we got children 84 / 85 my wife saw a "new" idea of a calendar with little sacks with either toys or sweets in – and made two of them. She also had the idea to give the kids little presents not to overwhelm them at Christmas evening.

    Christmas Market: Well this was an old tradition in Nürnberg – maybe some rare other city. I'm not sure about, but I think the habit that every city has such a marktet arrived some in the 90th.

    Elf on the shelf: Well I think there are children books and fairy tales in every country – but most are regional. In that region nearly every child knows. For example: Germans most prosperous TV show is "Sendung mit der Maus", a children tv sold to so many countries. Well – in every tv transmission from the ISS to Germany you see 2 little astronauts in their flight suits: the mouse and the blue elephant. I could ask why they are not so popular in the US 😉.
    Your way of Christmas ornaments: wow – that's a great way, keep it, wonderful.

    Christmas cards: Well, many people send christmas greetings on manufactured cards. I think, the US tradition of having a unique family card for that greetings is so much more nice.

  12. Hello, I'm from Ukraine. I love the vid and the way of your mom to celebrate. You are lucky to have such a childhood.
    Talking about our traditions, most of Ukrainians are Orthodox, so the Christmas we celebrate on the 6th of January. We also celebrate St. Nicolas day, but on the 19th of December. Those children who were nice and obedient during the year receive gifts under their pillows, the rest only a rod. Some of my friends would put bouth, a rod and a present, not to make a child too disappointed but as a hint to a child, that smth was wrong with a behavior.Mostly the period before the Christmas is not for fun, means no alkohol, no parties, only vegetarian food, thinking about soul, charity, visiting church. Among my friends there are many who try to keep this tradition. On the 6th of December we have a family dinner, which is also vegetarian. All the fan and serie of winter holidays start from the 7th. Children and some adults come to sing Christmas carrols, perfome some funny scenes, collect money for their perfomances. By the way, one of the very popular carroll was composed by Ukrainan Leontovich. Friends and family members celebrate two more holidays, St. Vasyl day on the 14th of January and Epyphany on the 19th of January.
    Personally I don't like Christmas at all. As I am from atheistic family, I used to celebrate the New Year. I like to put and decorate the New Year tree. From my childhood I remember us, making ornaments and garlands of colored paper, cutting snowflakes from napkins. Dancing and singing songs around the tree dressed in carnival costume, made by my mom..And gifts under the tree< gifts from the Grandfather Frost and his granddauhter Snegurochka(Snowgirl). Sorry for my long comment. The fact is our sweetest and dearest memkries we get from childhood. For my daughter I make gifts on St. Nickolas and New Year. I try to bake several kinds of cookies and decorate the cookies and the New Year tree with cookies,I love crafting together and feel sad that she grows up too fast ..
    And of couse, we have such a mix of cultures, religions and business, that we have everything, Catholic and Orthodox Christmas, New Year, Christmas markets, red warmed wine, St, Nickolas, Santa Claus , besides onle Elf on the shelf).

  13. I as a german have never heared about the elf on a shelf thing…
    And your mom's christmas village remembers me to german model railroad (Modelleisenbahn) where really enthusiatic fan of it are building not only the railway, but also a complete miniature environmet. The bigges model railroad of the world can be admired in Hamburg, see also where you can see a detailed realistic miniature of a country, or city etc. Very funy at 2:02. You can also see some parts ot the US with Las Vegas, Miamy some Wild West and a Space Port. I recommend to watch that video, it comes with english subtitles.
    An watch out 12:33 – it's awesome! – WAHNSINN!
    There are people who travel to Hamburg just to see this miniature wonderland (Miniatur Wunderland).
    Was this too way off topic? OK, back to the topic: I really like the idea of christmas all over the world!

  14. Great to hear of family traditions 🙂 my kids do not live at home anymore, but we still put decorations on the tree that they made when in grade school … my favourite decoration after the ones my kids have made, is a bird nest with a bird and eggs in it, it is the first thing my kids look for in the tree when they come to visit at Christmas 🙂

  15. In Argentina, the traditional Xmas food is not only mainly cold, but has influences from several places: vitel toné (a North-Italian food with traces of French cuisine), Greek halva (but we call it by the two main brands that exist here), cold turkey with different bittersweet sauces, pan dulce (panettone but with Spanish variations), cider for the toast, etc.

  16. I heard that Americans hang cucumers on their trees on christmas and that they think its a german tradition – if thats true, well, its not a german tradition at all

  17. A lot of Americans open gifts Christmas Eve. My husband’s family gather early Christmas Eve and then later in the evening my husband, our son, and his fiancée exchange our gifts. My family meets Christmas Day. And the husband’s family is a free for all when opening gifts. I hate it. My family is like yours, we watch each recipient open their gift so we can all ooohhh and ahh over it.

  18. Krampus day is the 5th decembre (I have to know it, its my birthday 👿and I am from Austria ). The "Krampuslauf" ( Krampus run) is in the most regions at the first weekend in decembre.
    I just know elf on the shelf from american YouTube Videos and I have never see it in Austria.
    Most older people haven't a christmas village, they have a "Krippe" with Maria, Joseph and the Jesus baby and the animals

  19. The Green Cloth with Pockets is the original Advent Calendar tradition. Having them premade with little doors is more like the comercialized version.

  20. Hey Kelly, how are you? I´ve never heard of the Elf on a shelf. I do have a lot of american relatives spread acros th US but they never told me about that…
    Need to ask them about it 😉 Have a nice day

  21. So… i'm born and raised in germany, 47 years old….so WHAT THE HOLY FU*@§?&% is an "Elf on the shelf"? 😀 What did i miss the last 47 years?
    I know the "Christkind" … but i never heard abouit "Elf on the Shelf". ^^

  22. I live in the us and my family did a lot of the things your mom incorporated from Germany ( ie advent calendar, st nic’s day, the angel ect) but we don’t have a connection to Germany. My family did come over from Poland in the early 1900s and remained in a polish community in Chicago until the 50s and 60s. I wonder if there is a broader cultural connection through out Central Europe with regards to these traditions?

  23. Growing up in Berlin and then going to the Appalachians, I learned to appreciate the distinct cultures and shocks that occur. Especially when one is young. I learned to appreciate other cultural differences elsewhere in the globe when I traveled and worked abroad for business often relocating for long term projects. There are beautiful Christmas traditions world wide, but I love my German traditions for Christmas most, though our Santa in my youth was a tall thin man in green who was sometimes scary stern. We didn’t do the elf thing in my youth…However the advent calendar was something we brought with us from Germany and almost no other family around us celebrated this (in the Appalachians). I also love your mom’s Christmas village by the way it evokes a more innocent time or what we perceive to be more innocent time. I chuckle and enjoy watching your show.

  24. I was a one of the Star singers for 3y in a row when I was a kid. You go to all the houses and people often give you the leftover cookies etc. So we all got lots of sweets out of it. 🙂

  25. My family always did angels on Christmas trees and something similar to elf on the shelf only it was an ornament they would move around usually above doorways(the elf is watching you making sure you are still being a good kid, and he will tell Santa if you act up.). The family has been doing it for at least 70 years. Also rumtopf

  26. I think I'm in Love with your Mother . My Fiance is quite the same , as she is a very Loving person and has a warm charm that melts everyone's heart .

  27. Come on, when it's all of a mess and you are bathing in packaging, that's the real Christmas joy. Check out this German sketch from the late 1970ies (4th min):

  28. Before i watch the video CHRISTMAS was originated from germany and if you know history: german kings pretty much dominated europe at its time(they were Austrians from the HabsburgFamilie) and they spread then the tradition

  29. I'm in my forties and my German mom still reminds me 5 times a year to do Nikolaus for my daughter. Like I'd ever forget. I love St. Nicholas Day.

  30. My mom put German candles on the tree an we would light them on Christmas Eve an sing carols. We had lights on it for the rest of the time

  31. Anna just a slight correction on the reason for not eating meat. It is because when Joseph & Mary went to Bethlehem there was no room for them at the inns so they shared a stable/ manger with the animals. So in their honor, Polish Catholics don't eat meat with their Christmas eve meal. And the wafer is called "Oplatek". You take your oplatek to each person & for every wish you have for them you break a little piece of theirs off & eat it; they in turn do the same to you. eg: Good health, better job, boyfriend/ girlfriend, children Awesome site Kelly keep it up Dziękuję & Dobry Dzień

  32. Since Me and my Brothers and Sister are all half american and half German (my Papa is from the USA and and my Mama is German!) we celebrate Christmas both ways, but when it comes to the Part of giving the Christmas Presents we do it the German ways, because most of us (that includes my Family, my Relatives and me) are always too excited to open the Presents and that's why we usually open the Christmas Presents on December 24! And we also sometimes hang up Stockings! And I also love helping my Mama or my Sister (due to my Autism that I have that, which would always be a hard Challenge, because of the Multitasking Problem and Math problem that I have from my Autism, if I would try to bake or cook alone) to make both the American Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Weihnachtsplätzchen (which is the Southern German Dialect Word for all kinds of German Christmas Cookies!) For the Christmas Party! And we also sing Silent Night in both Languages in front of the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve, every Year!

  33. I can recommend going to the "Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt", which is one of the largest and prettiest Christmas Markets in Germany, which is in Stuttgart, that I've been to together with my Family!

  34. Oh my god. It's end of March as I'm watching this video and suddenly I just NEED a Stollen.
    Obvious problem is that it isn't exactly in season now and I kind of don't want to order one online because I'm 99% sure I will not at home when it would be delivered.

    Other than that, nice video as are your other ones!
    Actually I've learned a thing or two about the U.S. (for example that Coca Cola is more expensive there than it is in Germany). 😀
    Keep the videos coming! 🙂
    Greetings from Germany!

  35. There is no "Elf on a shelf" in germany, but there are the "Heinzelmännchen", though. However the Heinzelmännchen have nothing to do with christmas at all.

  36. WOW! That was the funniest video, you ever made!
    Your Mom must be incredible lovely to give you two girls such fantastic christmas fantasy adventures with all her made up elfs and so on! just wonderful!!!
    you must be so lucky to have such a Mom !

  37. No punsch, pusch is popular in austria, and still more often than not alcoholic. II know th open gifts mostly on 24th and later too. our family gives it away after the 24th too, usually 25, or 25th. And how cant you know the st nicolas day on the 6th of december, with the krampus on. And the 6th january exists too, somehow.

    I know any kind of seafood on the 24th december evening tradition, it can be but hasnt to be lachs, or scampi or shrimp or similar.
    Also nice thing, put on the candles, lights in the dark on the holy tree, aka chrismas tree, sing a cheesy song, and then open the presents. Its beautiful, and for the kids you can hide them, tell kids to hide, i still think christmas is less creepy than old man santa, aka odin, check yule traditions.

    Its austria where krampul is likely more prevalent despite being controverse, but traditions should be similar.

    And there is a advent market in a medieval fair fashion which has hot met, which is good too, even if its basically honewy wine.

  38. I am from the Southern Region of Austria. Regarding the "Krampusruns". In our region (Carinthia) we have around 30 groups with approximately 10 Krampus in every Group. Not countet are figures like hags the death the little Angels and St.Nikolaus.


  39. I've never met anybody who does the stuffed mouse with the Christmas scene!! I have that has one of the things my mom gave me when I had our son with the original mouse and everything! I can't believe somebody else has done this specific one that I grew up with. I'm excited to do Advent calendars with my son as well but this will always be a special part of Christmas for me. We always had a Christmas Angel, I'm not sure why. Your mom sounds a lot like my mom. Oh and Elf on the Shelf needs to DIE. It is really creepy.

    Finally, I wanted to say that in the South west US many families have taken on Mexican traditions and we often had Tamales, Enchiladas, and other Mexican food on Christmas and often Thanksgiving as well.

  40. Do you think Christmas is nicer in Germany or America hard too say Germany has the Christmas markets I don't know anything in America which takes substitutes of the Christmas markets.(peace)☺

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