German Word of the Day:


n. fem., preparation

This post is not about Christmas.

Okay, well maybe that depends how you look at it.  This post is about Advent.  If you don’t know, Advent is the name for the four weeks leading up to Christmas day.  In America, this period of reflection and preparation seems to get swallowed up by Christmas itself.  In Germany, however, Advent gets a little more attention.  Starting four Sundays before Christmas, most Germans observe a few traditions that are distinct from the celebration of Christmas, so I thought they deserved a post of their own.  Here are some of the traditional ways of celebrating Advent in Germany:


We have a problem in the US, which is our lack of creativity regarding Advent calendars.  And never have I had as wonderful an Advents calendar as my host parents set up for me this year!

A surprise every day. Definitely the coolest Advent calendar I’ve ever had.

St. Nikolaus Day

St. Nikolaus comes on December 6th and leaves presents in children’s shoes.  One of the perks of being a foreign exchange student is that everyone wants to give you the “full experience” – that means you get chocolate in your boots even when you should be way too old for that!


Cookies and Christmas Trees

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to get to visit some great friends of mine in Berlin, and together we got some things ready for the holidays.  Naturally, cookies (Platzchen) and a Christmas tree (Weihnachtsbaum) are non-negotiable.


The Weihnachtsmarkt

There is just nothing like a German Christmas market.  During November and December, little booths pop up in nearly every city center selling handmade Christmas goods.  It’s like stepping into a whole other world… Sparkling lanes wind between rows of wooden huts filled with shining glass balls and glittering silver candlesticks and carved wooden figures, the aroma of fresh bread and roasted nuts and hot wine pokes out of every corner, Christmas music floats up to the night sky… it’s really impossible to describe the feel of a Weihnachtsmarkt.

This weekend, I got to visit the Christmas market in Dresden, which is one of the most popular in the country.  There were hundreds of venders scattered throughout the city – it was breathtaking.

This was taken at one of the Dresden Christmas markets.  There are actually 15 of these markets in the city during Advent, each with its own flavor.



These are just a few of the things sold at the Dresden markets.


My little town of 8,000 people was only able to host a Christmas market for one weekend, but at least the Christmas lights are up and running every night now!  Walking through the sparkly cobblestones streets, I try to remind myself to stop and take in the whole season, and right now that means it’s not 11 days until Christmas… it’s Advent.

Rodenberg under the lights.

8 thoughts on “Advent

  1. Love this post! I’m a Canadian expat living in Sweden and two weekends ago, I decided to visit Western Germany to visit some German Christmas markets…and I completely agree! There is absolutely nothing like a German Christmas market, and I think you did a great job describing the feeling of one. I was in Aachen and wrote about it recently too!

    On a side note, Sweden also has some really unique advent calendar ideas.


    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad it resonated with you!
      I’m planning to visit Sweden soon so I’ll be on the lookout for cool Christmas traditions there as well.
      You have a lovely blog, by the way. Instant follow!


  2. Mia,

    Wonderful blog!! I wish I could be with you in Dresden. Your picture there is lovely and you look beautiful as always.

    Grandma and I were there in 1973 and the city was a bombed out mess. It Iooks like things have been put together very well.

    Keep having such a good time in Germany. Remember you have some German genes running through your veins.

    Thanks for including us in your blog and have a blessed Advent season.

    Grandma joins me in sending along our love,

    Grandpa Werger

    Paul Werger


    1. Thanks! Yes, it’s unbelievable how Dresden was restored after it got completely demolished in the War. The city’s gorgeous now but the buildings are all charred black from the bombing, which gives the city a really unique feel.


  3. Hi, Mia, I have to add something: Nikolaus brings chocolate only to kids who behaved throughout the year (no problem for you) AND who had cleaned their shoes … It seems somebody had told you this. Kids who did not follow this will find black coal in their boots – at least this is, what it used to be. Luckily our Kids always behaved and always cleaned their shoes – of course. When Evie was here she was worried because there was white paint on her boot she could not get off. She left a note for Santa which explained the problem. Fortunately, she could convince him.
    It was a fun weekend with you, thank you! Iris


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