Today is Christmas Eve. In my family Christmas Eve was never that big of a deal. We always put up our tree around Dec. 15 and on Dec. 24, we usually just sat around watching TV and drinking hot chocolate (kind of like what I am doing today). However, Christmas Eve in Germany is the BIG DAY.
Germans have a whole ritual of traditions for Christmas Eve. Although there are some regional and family differences, I discovered many similarities while talking with my students this week.
On Christmas Eve, the parents lock the children out of the living room and put up their Christmas tree (although some families do this together). The children play and then the family sits down and has dinner together, which is usually potato salad and sausages. During dinner, the Christ Child comes and places the Christmas presents under the tree. Then a bell is rung and the children race into the living room to discover their tree and rip open their presents.
I heard another variation of this tradition, in which everyone goes to Church after dinner and when they get home the children discover that the Christ Child has been there and the presents are opened.
Regardless of the order, it is important to note that today the Christ Child brings presents, which are then opened on Dec. 24.
I find this highly illogical. I tried to discuss it with the German.
Claire: It just makes no sense. Someone is in the house, while you are there AND awake. How are kids supposed to believe that?? The American tradition is much more logical.
The German: Seriously? Americans are logical?
Claire: Yes. We only have one person, Santa (aka St. Nick, Father Christmas, etc., Germans have St. Nicholas on Dec. 6 and the Christ Child on Dec. 24). It makes a lot more sense that we cannot see Santa because he only comes when you are asleep. It is a lot easier to believe and is why opening Christmas presents must be on the morning of Dec. 25.
The German: (smirking) A fat guy in a red suit breaks into your house via a chimney, and you are telling me that is logical.
Claire: Hmm, I see your point.
Merry Christmas, my friends!