It’s not a big deal or anything but CHRISTMAS IS FINALLY HERE! Bring on the Glühwein, Advent wreath, flaming trees, terrifying Christmas monsters and all the other Bavarian festive fun. If you’re not quite up on the local traditions, customs and public holidays, here is a quick rundown of what you can expect… Fröhliche Weihnachten!
When: the first Advent weekend (usually falls in November) – 22nd or 23rd of December
The smell of Glühwein will fill the streets, as several Christmas markets open up booths of Christmas food, drinks, decorations, handmade goods and other seasonal bits and bobs. Find out all about the most famous of Munich’s Christmas markets here. (ADD LINK TO ARTICLE ON CHRISTMAS MARKETS)
When: Starting on the first Sunday of December, 3rd of December 2017
You will see many houses with lights, candles, and wreaths decorating their doors once Advent starts. This is unlikely to mean that the house has a Christmas tree and other decorations up, but that they are marking the four Sundays in Advent. The advent wreath holds four candles: the first one to be lit on the first Sunday of Advent and every additional one to be lit every consecutive Sunday thereafter until all four shine their light. In 2017, the first Sunday of Advent was the third of December.
St Nicholas Day
When: 5th-6th of December
If your child is in Kindergarten or Grundschule they may well have a visit from St Nicholas. On the eve children polish their shoes and place them in front of the door. The next morning they are hopefully filled with presents, fruit, and candy, brought by Saint Nick himself. Bavaria is not alone in marking St Nicholas Day and you may have your own traditions for this day already.
When: 10th and 17th of December
Traditionally Krampus night is the night of the 5th of December (the night before St Nicholas Day) however the runs have come to take place the weekend following that night/day.
In Munich, the run takes place around the Christmas Markets. While the main one took place on the 10th of December in 2017, there will be a shorter reprise the following Sunday (the 17th of December). It is quite a spectacle and is very popular so it is likely to be busy. The costumes are amazing but can (as is required by the character of Krampus) be scary too.
Christmas Eve / Heiligabend
When: 24th of December
This is not a bank holiday in Bavaria however at sundown it will mark the start of Christmas. The celebrations concentrate in the evening: people go to church (if they are religious), have a big meal, carol, exchange gifts and snuggle up beneath the Christmas tree.
Like many other countries, this is the day when the Christmas presents arrive. If you come from a tradition of Christmas presents being delivered for the morning of the 25th of December, this can make for an interesting conversation when your children realize that they have to wait longer than all their schoolmates.
25th December / Christmas Day / Weihnachtstag
When: 25th of December
This is a public holiday in Bavaria. A day for visiting family or staying in bed if you have no kids. If you have kids, you will be dragged to the park to try out that new scooter or sled.
Boxing Day / St Stephen’s Day / 2nd Day of Christmas
When: 26th of December
This is a public holiday in Bavaria. A day for visiting family.
When: 31st of December
Be ready for fireworks, lots of fireworks! Not only the kind organized by professionals — everyone in Munich can buy and set off fireworks just about anywhere they like… and they do.
New Year’s Day
When: 1st of January
This is a public holiday in Bavaria.
Epiphany or Drei Konigstag
When: 6th of January
This marks the end of Christmas and is a public holiday in Bavaria.
Public Holidays mean shops will be closed (but many bars and restaurants will stay open), so don’t forget to stock up at the supermarket before it goes into shut-down mode. Public transport will run on a holiday timetable.
Kathy Bryan is a stay at home mum with 11 ½ years experience. She and her family moved to Bavaria from the middle of England in March 2016. Her current challenge is learning enough German to help with homework as well as keeping up with her 3 children! She previously worked and lived in London; rugby was her sport of choice. In her free time, she tries to run regularly and continues to try to settle and make friends in Germany.