The 11th November is known as Martinstag or Sankt Martin. Originally the start of a 40-day period of fasting before Christmas, it is now more associated with the processions of children holding lanterns that take place after dark. Many families eat goose on this day. The day also sees the start of the Karneval season.   … [Read more...]

Heilige Drei Könige

Heilige Drei Könige is celebrated on 6th January. In some areas of Germany it is a public holiday. The day celebrates the arrive of the three wise men from the east in Bethlehem. In the Evangelical Church it is known as Epihanias – similar to the English name of the day in some countries “Epiphany”. On this day, groups of children known as Sternsinger go from door to door … [Read more...]

Raclette, Fondue & Bleigießen

In this edition of German Words Explained we take a look at three traditions associated with New Year's Eve. Raclette is originally a traditional Swiss dish made from cheese. A large piece of cheese is put near a fire and is brought to melting point. When the cheese is soft and about to melt, a layer is scraped off and eaten with bread. The modern raclette is an … [Read more...]


Silvester is the last day of the year, 31st December, known in English as New Year's Eve. Many people hold or visit parties on this evening, others spend the evening with their families at home. Popular things to eat on this evening are raclette and fondue. At midnight everyone goes out onto the streets and lets of fireworks to celebrate the New Year. A long running … [Read more...]


The 25th and 26th of December are celebrated in Germany as 1. Weihnachtsfeiertag and 2. Weihnachtsfeiertag. These days are public holidays, a tradition that dates back to Martin Luther. Unlike many English-speaking countries, presents are not exchanged on these days, as this happens on Heiligabend. Instead, many families come together on these days and eat together. For … [Read more...]

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