As the holiday season draws near, Germany comes alive with the festive spirit of Advent. This important period in the Christian calendar marks the start of the Christmas celebrations and is a time of reflection, hope, and joy. From the twinkling lights of the Christmas markets to the sound of carol singers in the streets, there is no better time to experience the magic of Germany than during Advent.

What is Advent?

To be perfectly honest, the closest I had ever come to celebrating Advent before moving to Germany was the occasional advent calendar as a child!  However, Advent is a big deal in Germany!  And it’s beautiful!!

In short, Advent is a season observed in many Christian traditions, typically beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. It marks the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. During Advent, believers engage in various spiritual practices, including prayer, reflection, and lighting candles on an Advent wreath. It serves as a time of reflection, hope, and anticipation for Christmas, focusing on themes of peace, joy, love, and hope.

Advent in Germany

Advent Traditions

Lighting of Candles

One of the key traditions of Advent in Germany is the lighting of Advent candles. These candles are typically arranged in a wreath, with one candle lit each Sunday in the run-up to Christmas. And on the final Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit together.  The wreath represents the eternal nature of God, and the candles symbolise the hope and promise of Christ. Many families gather around the Advent wreath each week to light the candles and say prayers, reflecting on the meaning of the season.

Christmas Markets

Another integral part of Advent in Germany is the Christmas markets. These bustling markets are found in cities and towns across the country and are a hub of activity during the holiday season. Visitors can browse the stalls selling handmade gifts and decorations, sample traditional German foods and drinks, and enjoy live music and entertainment. The atmosphere is electric, with the scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine filling the air.

Pealing of the Bells, “Großes Stadtgeläut”

A long-held tradition of the simultaneous ringing of all church bells in the city which is documented as early as 1347.  And this wonderful tradition continues today, albeit with a slight tweak.  Today, it is not simply a ringing of the bells but rather a performance where each participating church has its own harmony, which fits perfectly into the joint chorus of all the church bells together.  Hundreds of people gather on the Römer to hear the bells on Christmas Eve from 5.00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m

Church Services

For those looking for a more spiritual experience, numerous churches and cathedrals across Germany offer Advent services. These services are a time of reflection and prayer, with beautiful music and readings from the Bible. Many churches also hold special events, such as concerts and carol services, during Advent.

Undoubtedly, Advent in Germany is a time of joy, hope, and reflection.  So whether you are looking to experience the festive atmosphere of the Christmas markets or attend a spiritual service, there is something for everyone during this special time of year.