TravelPulse: 6 American holiday traditions borrowed from Germany
December 24, 2018
Do you hang a Christmas pickle on your tree? Is there a reward for the person who finds the pickle? Do you think that it is an old German tradition?
Well, unfortunately, the German Christmas pickle is not Christmas fact but holiday fiction. However, with German-Americans making up one of the largest ancestry groups in the U.S., there are many German traditions that Americans have adopted throughout the years.
The Goethe Institut has launched Wunderbar Together: A Year of German American Friendship that celebrates the close friendship between the countries while sharing German heritage and culture and highlighting a few of the beloved holiday traditions Americans know and love who have their roots in German Christmas celebrations.
German immigrants brought the tradition of the Christmas tree to the U.S. in the 19th century, according to the Goethe Institut. In addition to the tree, ornaments and tinsel also became popular adornments for the tree in Europe before gaining fame in the U.S. when American dime-store magnate, F.W. Woolworth began importing them.
Classic Christmas Carols
Americans love to sing “O Christmas Tree” and “Silent Night,” which Germans know better as “O Tannenbaum” and “Stille Nacht.” “Handel’s Messiah” was written in German but originates in neighboring Austria.
President Eisenhower brought widespread popularity to the Christmas tradition of advent calendars when a photo of him opening one with his grandchildren ran in papers, but in Germany, the tradition dates back to the ninth century.
The much-loved tradition of the Christmas market originates in Germany as well. The first documented Christmas markets (known as Christkindlmarkets in German) were found in Munich, Bautzen (1384) and Frankfurt during the 14th century.
Today, Christmas markets are found throughout Germany and in many U.S. cities such as Chicago, where German-American ancestry runs deep.
Yes, modern-day Santa Claus has German ancestry. German-American political cartoonist Thomas Nast created the jolly, full-figured, man in a red suit and bearded in a series of drawings for Harper’s Weekly during the Civil War era.
Now, in Nast’s hometown of Landau in der Pfalz, the city’s annual Christmas market, “the Thomas-Nast-Nikolausmarkt,” is named in his honor.
Anyone who has traveled to Germany during the holiday season knows that Germany is awash in gingerbread at Christmastime. Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century and became associated with Christmas. It gained further popularity with the tales from the Brothers Grimm, including Hansel and Gretel. The recipe didn’t land in the U.S. until the 19th century.
DCist: If we had a dollar for every event combining Bach, breakdancing, and the Lincoln Memorial, we’d have $1
Johann Sebastian Bach, the one who I always need to remind myself is not Beethoven, is the inspiration for a free breakdancing performance this Thursday at the Lincoln Memorial, of all places. Organized by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of its Year of German-American Friendship, the performance combines a very German thing (baroque classical music) and a thing Americans do sometimes, I suppose (…breakdance?).Read More
The Associated Press: Germany seeks to woo Americans amid rocky Trump relationship
Smarting from President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks and perceived disregard for a long-time U.S. ally, Germany is launching a multimillion-dollar publicity campaign to highlight the country’s close ties with the United States. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas planned to kick-start the charm offensive — a series of events headlined “Wunderbar Together” — during a visit Wednesday to Washington, where he will also meet with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to discuss Syria, the nuclear deal with Iran and relations with Russia.Read More
Barron’s: Celebrating Bauhaus at 100
Widely acknowledged as the 20th century’s most influential school of architecture, art, and design, the Staatliches Bauhaus was founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919 and closed down in 1933, as the Nazis came to power. Despite its abrupt closure, the Bauhaus legacy continued to grow and expand its influence, leaving an indisputable mark […]Read More