Looking for Christmas around the world activities? How about a global hop to Christmas in Germany? Here are German holiday activities. First a little history on Germany. Ancient Germans were druids that worshiped nature. They celebrated Winter Solstice or Saturnalia from which come many Christmas traditions.Then warring Saxon, Hunnic and Teutonic tribes brought their gods of Valhalla. From them come week day names–Thursday (Thor), Friday from his vengeful wife Freya and Wednesday from brother Woden (also known as Loki the trickster). They worshiped the sacred oak, which became a deity because it was so large.
Then in the 800s, St. Boniface (also called St. Winfred) brought Christianity from Ireland. Ireland was a world educational center in the 8th century, since the Roman bishop Patricus (St. Patrick) Christianized it in the 4th century. Boniface, a Benedictine monk went as a missionary to pagan Germany. At the Hessian village of Fritzlar, St. Boniface confronted pagan worshipers at a sacred oak dedicated to Thor. They planned to sacrifice a child and its mother pleaded with St. Boniface to save her child. Boniface took an axe to the oak and dared Thor to strike him dead if he could. As St. Boniface chopped, a mighty wind knocked thetree over. From its roots sprang an evergreen tree, the symbol of Christ and everlasting life. Awed by the miracle, many converted to Christianity. Celebrate Christmas around the world with German holiday activities. Make Christmas tree ornaments from green felt. Stitch two pieces together and stuff. Decorate with sequins, ribbon, glitter, silk flowers, buttons and beads. Make Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies. Or mix marshmallows, butter, Corn Flakes and green food coloring. Shape like evergreen trees. Or buy Christmas tree Little Debbie cakes.
Gift-givers differ in traditions of Christmas around the world. In German holiday activities, St. Boniface isn’t the Christmas gift giver. That task belongs to the more whimsical Kris Kringle with his assistant Black Pieter (also called Krampus or Ruprecht). He’s a chimney and an imp–good children get gifts, bad kids get coal or a switch for chastisement. Kris Kringle is good Christmas cop, Krampus is the bad cop. Kris Kringle appears fierce at first, but ends with a jolly laugh. Celebrate Krampus and make “coal cookies” Blend chocolate syrup, cream cheese, crushed chocolate-filled Oreos and chocolate chips. Form into lumpy balls. Leave them out for Krampus to sweeten his mood. Or wrap and give as gifts from Krampus!
Elsewhere in Germany, the Christkindl (Christmas angel) brings gifts. Children write to Christkindl for gifts and decorate their cards with sugar to make them sparkle. Have children make Christmas cards by folding blue construction paper and decorating with glue and glitter. Add sparkly colored sugar to Christmas cookies and leave out for the Christkindl.
Another Christmas around the world tradition says Martin Luther, a German monk. saw that snow and moonlight made evergreen tree glow. Luther was reminded of the light of God’s love. He cut down a small tree and decorated it with candles. Martin Luther also wrote the Christmas carol, Away in the Manger. Have children thank God for his love as they decorate the Christmas tree. Gather and sing carols around it. Make chart of activities to practice loving kindness. Make cut paper snowflakes. Fold white paper in fourths then thirds, like an ice cream cone. Trim off excess to make a square. Cut designs using printable patterns. Cut part way through along the fold. Decorate with glitter.
Learn “Silent Night’ in German “Stille Nacht.” Legend says Father Joseph Mohr, of Oberndorff, Germany who was dismayed to find that mice had eaten through the organ bellows one Christmas Eve. There would be no music for midnight mass. Father Mohr went to baptize a newborn baby, and was moved by the sight of mother and child. He hurried home and penned this best-loved Christmas hymn. Kappelmaster Franz Gruber wrote the melody for guitar and it was sung Christmas mass. Make connections between English and German words–Stille (still) Nacht (night), Schlaf (sleep) Gottes (God) Sohn (son) Bruder (brother).
Make a gingerbread house. Read the Grimm Brothers’ “Hansel and Gretel” print gingerbread house patterns and decorate your homes like the witch’s cottage. Make you own gingerbread or glue graham crackers to a box. Decorate with candy. Make gingerbread men also. Make the stable in Bethlehem and decorate with animal crackers. For holiday greetings of Christmas around the world, learn to say “Froehliche Weihnachten’ (froy-leek vine nahkten) meaning of course, Happy Christmas to all!