German Christmas traditions bring in the most wonderful time of the year warm feeling, and in Bavaria, this is no exception. The people of Bavaria celebrate Christmas with their very own unique traditions.
As a typically conservative state, South Germany is still very well in touch with its traditions.
Christmas markets dating back to the 1600s, St Nikolaus for the nice children as well as Krampus for the naughty!
Christmas Markets in Bavaria
Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this season is the Christmas Markets (especially German ones).
Tasty, sweet, warm and full of calories… Ahhummm.
The markets open during the Christmas Advent, selling traditional Bavarian food, drinks, and gifts.
The Christmas Advent starts four weeks before Christmas.
You can find one in almost every town square in Germany, each with a unique atmosphere. But to make it easier for you I have compiled a list of my top 3 Christmas Markets in Bavaria:
Munich and German Christmas traditions
Located in the Marienplatz (the heart of the city centre), these Christmas markets are hard to miss and are one of the wonders of Munich.
One of the largest Christmas markets in Bavaria with over 180 stalls.
It has everything German Christmas related on offer:
- Souvenirs such as handmade toys,
- Christmas tree decorations and ceramics,
- food and drink like Glühwein,
- Crepes and Bratwurst.
Munich also hosts a LGBTQ+ friendly ‘Pink Christmas’, which is worth a visit.
It is lovely that a traditionally conservative city also caters to the LGBTQ+ community. With pink Christmas trees, live music, gifts and the traditional food and drinks.
Nuremberg is world-renowned for its Cristkindlesmarkt (Christ Child Markets), dating back to 1628.
Located in the old town, the markets really bring the traditional Bavarian culture to life. Whilst there, you cannot miss out on the famous Nuremberger Bratwurst and Gingerbread, luckily there’s a lot on offer!
You can also collect souvenir toys, wooden sculptures and Christmas decorations.
Visit Nuremberg in a Christmas Market tour. Make sure to get your guide.
Rothenburg is a magical place which wasn’t destroyed in World War II.
The historically picturesque place with its city walls, half-timbered houses and cobblestone roads.
Christmas in Rothenberg is as romantic as any other place. The whole city is adorned with lights and decorations.
To accompany the usual Glühwein, make sure to treat yourself to a Schneeballen (Snowball) – a ball-shaped shortcrust pastry, dipped in chocolate or other sweets. I really love the covered in powdered sugar.
Church Services in Munich
When it comes to the evening of 24 December, everyone is off to go to church. The services are packed with people who come together to celebrate this special night.
Old and young meet there to sing and pray. The whole church sings Christmas carols, the lights are dimmed, and the Christmas spirit is as present as nowhere else.
I particularly like the singing of ‘Holy Night’ at the end, when the lights are turned off and a few elderly women shed their tears of joy.
here my list of churches in the city.
St Nikolaus and Krampus
St Nikolaus is not Santa Claus. In fact, in Bavaria, we don’t celebrate Santa Claus as this once was anymore.
On St Nikolaustag (St Nikolaus day) the 6th of December, St Nikolaus delivers presents to the children. Everyone has to leave their clean shoes outside for St Nikolaus to leave presents in.
This tradition is a preliminary celebration for Christmas. This happens in addition to St Nikolaustag, on the 24th of December where the Christkindl (Christ Child) visits during the Church mass to deliver presents to the children.
However, Krampus whose tale originates in Bavaria is a horned half-goat, half-demon figure.
During Advent, he punishes children who have been naughty. Krampus is normally in events such as Krampuslauf (Krampus run), where people dress as the Krampus and run through some cities in Bavaria.
If you don’t want a visit from the Krampus, you better be nice!
The Bavarian traditional dink is available during advent and served on the Christmas markets. It is usually made with red wine along with mulling spices.
This is an alcoholic beverage and is served hot. It really gives you the warming feeling and belongs to every special Christmas market adventure.
Here is one of my all-time favorite recipes:
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
- One cup of water (or less, depending on the wine quality)
- 3⁄4 cup brown sugar
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds
- A lemon, sliced into rounds
- 1 whole star anise
- 10 whole cloves
- Half vanilla bean, split in half
- 1⁄2 cup brandy
- Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and place over medium-low heat.
- Heat the mixture for 60 minutes, making sure not to bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the flavors have melded together, strain out the spices and reserve the citrus pieces for serving.
- Serve the warmed wine with a round of lemon and a round of orange.