Traditional German Christmas Foods (2022)

From the birthplace of the Christmas Tree, we bring you German Christmas Food ideas to brighten the holidays with tradition, festivity, and heritage.

Traditional German Christmas Foods (1)

Traditional German Christmas Food

It’s said,The first taste of Christmas arrives when Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Spekulatius (gingery biscuits) suddenly appear on the supermarket shelves at the beginning of September.”

If you would love to add German Christmas elements to your holidays, we’ve gathered not only some deliciously authentic German recipes to add to your Christmas celebrations, but given you a flavor of German Christmas traditions.

RELATED: Travel to Europe with Christmas Market Foods to Make at Home

How Germans Celebrate Christmas

Germany celebrates Christmas with two public holidays, 25 and 26 December. For many people, 24 December, Christmas Eve, is divided into a hectic morning and a festive evening.

When Christmas Eve falls on a working day, the shops are open until noon and they are very busy as people buy their last presents or food for the festive meal. Afterward, attention focuses on decorating the Christmas tree with fairy lights and colorful baubles, wrapping up presents and preparing food.”

Traditional German Christmas Foods (2)

German Christmas Traditions

While there are many German Christmas traditions, here are a few I particularly love.

Advent Calendar:

The advent calendar can be traced to 19th century Germany. Protestant families were known to mark the days leading up to Christmas with a chalk line.

It wasn’t until 1851 that the first advent calendar was made using a plain card with a paper backing. On the face were 24 windows that when opened, revealed images of Christmas. On December 24th, Christmas Eve or Heiligabend, the last window generally revealed a Nativity scene.

If you would like to make your own Advent Calendar, see our post onEasy Homemade Advent Calendars to DIY or Amazon has many beautiful and creative advent calendars too.

Advent Wreath (Adventskranz):

Many families in Germany create an advent wreath on the 4th Sunday before Christmas consisting of four candles, evergreens, pinecones, and natural materials. A candle is then lit each Sunday evening until the holiday.

Often families will spend a reflective hour together, some sing Christmas carols, host children’s musical performances, or watch a family movie together. And very often hot cocoa, cider, and cookies as served too.

St. Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus Tag):

This is a favorite children’s holiday in Germany.

St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th, the day St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra in Minor Asia, died. Or in some communities and regions on the evening of December 5, the eve of his death.

(Video) German Christmas Food Traditions - German Christmas Dinner Menu

The custom is that a gray-haired man with a flowing beard, dressed as a bishop carrying a staff, knocks on doors and delivers gifts to children. He is accompanied by a “ragged looking, devil-like Krampusse, who mildly or nor so mildly scares the children.” Depending on the region, these escorts were called by different names: “Belsnickle,” “Niglo,” “Pelznickel,” and others.

Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmärkte):

Dating to the 15th century, historic German city centers light up the December sky with Christmas markets, also known as Weihnachtsmärkte. Vendors from then until now set up displays of local arts and crafts, food, and more.

See the Best Christmas Markets in Germany.

Christmas Trees:

Otherwise known as Tannubaum, the German Christmas tree finds its roots in the 16th century when “Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.”

It’s widely believed that Martin Luther was the first to add lighted candles to the Christmas tree. notes that while Martin Luther was walking toward his home one “one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.”

More German Christmas Traditions


Traditional German Christmas Foods (3)

Roast Goose with Pork, Prune and Chestnut Stuffing

“While author Luke Barr’s research shows that Julia Child prepared a roast goose stuffed with pork, prunes and chestnuts for Christmas dinner in 1970, no such exact recipe exists in any of her cookbooks. Inspired by the goose recipes in Child’sMastering the Art of French Cooking,F&W’s Kay Chun perfected this delicious version, which calls for techniques—like basting the goose with boiling water—that Child most likely used as well.”


Traditional German Christmas Foods (4)

Crispy Roasted Goose Is a German Christmas Favorite

“Weihnachtsgans or German Christmas goose is the preferred fowl choice, along with duck, for festive occasions. Turkey is rarely seen on holiday dinner tables. Goose, for that matter, is rarely seen anymore, as well, which is a shame because it is so simple to prepare. Like other poultry, onions, thyme, and fruit are great seasoning choices with goose.”

(Video) German Christmas Food Traditions 2 - German Christmas Dinner Menu


Traditional German Christmas Foods (5)

Bavarian Bread Dumplings (Semmelknödel) Recipe

“Bavarian home cook Brigitte Drexler’s soul-satisfying bread dumplings are great for sopping up the rich gravy from thebraised roast.”


German Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)

“Juniper berries, green apple, and tangy vinegar give this German braised red cabbage it’s distinctive sweet and sour flavor. Make a big batch of this “rotkohl” and watch it disappear!”


Traditional German Christmas Foods (7)

Krautstrudel: An Easy Savory Cabbage Roll

“German Krautstrudel is a delightfully easy savory cabbage roll, perfect for the season. With soft sauteed strands of cabbage, the smoky flavor of baconand savory crunch of caraway seeds; all wrapped in a delicate, flaky crust. It’s a treat friends and family will love.”


Traditional German Christmas Foods (8)

(Video) Traditional Christmas Food in Germany | euromaxx

A Classic German Dresden Christmas Stollen

“German Stollen has been around for nearly 700 years and are prized throughout the world as one of the most famous and beloved of all Christmas pastries. Your search for the BEST authentic Stollen recipe has ended: Flaky, moist, aromatic and divinely flavorful, these homemade German Christmas Stollen are INCREDIBLE!”


Traditional German Christmas Foods (9)

Almond-Filled Stollen

I’ve been making this during the holiday season for nearly 50 years. When we flew to Alaska one year to spend Christmas with our daughter’s family, I carried my stollen on the plane!" - Rachel


Traditional German Christmas Foods (10)

Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen)

“A traditional German Christmas gingerbread cookie, or Lebkuchen. Created by medieval monks, lebkuchen dates back to the 13th century in Germany and Switzerland.”

Traditional German Christmas Foods (11)

Lebkuchen Bars

“These spicy gingerbread-like bars, which are traditional holiday fare in Germany, contain no fat other than that in the egg. They’re addictive nonetheless, with their hard sugar glaze and nippy bite of crystallized ginger (substituted for the more typical citron). They keep very well too, especially when a piece of apple is tucked into their airtight container to soften them. They’re a perfect accompaniment to hot tea after a blustery afternoon of scouring the shops for just-right presents.”

German Christmas Cookies

“An assortment of German Christmas cookies at Rischart bakery in Munich. From left: chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons; cinnamon and kirsch star cookies; raspberry jam sandwich cookies; anise seed crescent cookies; chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies; chocolate-dipped hazelnut cookies.”

Kokosmakronen(Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons)


Zimtsterne(Cinnamon and Kirsch Star Cookies)

Spitzbuben(Raspberry Jam Sandwich Cookies)

Vanillekipferl(Anise-Seed Crescent Cookies)

Schokiladen-Butter-plätzchen(Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies)

Nusstaler(Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Cookies)


Traditional German Christmas Foods (12)

Gingerbread Cookies: German Inspired

This Gingerbread Cookies recipe, inspired by German spices, is soft and perfectly delicious with molasses and brown sugar. These Gingerbread Cookies are Christmas in every bite.


Traditional German Christmas Foods (13)

Lebkuchen (German Christmas Cookie) Recipe

"This rendition of the deeply-spiced German Christmas cookie gets its soft, chewy texture from the addition of honey. Any leftover dough scraps can be re-rolled and cut into additional cookies; remaining candied citrus can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month."


Buttery German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

There's a family story behind this cake, "which was passed down (in memory! Not written down!) through three generations, beginning with one resourceful German grandmother. It’s also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen, meaning German apple cake."

More Recipes You May Love


What is the most popular dish eaten on Christmas Eve in Germany? ›

According to an Umfrage (survey), Kartoffelsalat mit Würstchen (potato salad with sausage) is the most popular Christmas dinner in Germany.

What is a traditional German Christmas breakfast? ›

In Germany, a Christmas breakfast usually consists of hearty bread, cold meats and cheeses, and eggs, alongside a number of regional dishes; in the north, many families will have fish with their breakfast. After breakfast, there will be plenty of snacks to keep you from feeling peckish until dinner time.

What is a traditional Christmas sweet in Germany? ›

Stollen is a cake that Germans traditionally eat for their Christmas dinner dessert. It's quite a dry cake (so that it can last a long time), but it's filled with nuts, raisins and sometimes marzipan.

What is the most popular Christmas dessert in Germany? ›

1. Gebrannte Mandeln (Cinnamon Sugar Almonds) A German Christmas Market staple! Literally translated they're called burned almonds but really, the almonds are coated in crunchy cinnamon sugar and served warm in paper cones.

What is a traditional German Christmas Eve dinner? ›

A German Christmas Eve

This culinary tradition continues today in many families, even if no church going is involved, with carp, salmon or hake often taking centre stage at the table, accompanied by fried potatoes or Kartoffelpuffer (potato fritters) and Sauerkraut.

What is the most popular Christmas cookie in Germany? ›

#1 Gingerbread

It's one of the most famous German Christmas cookies. Lebkuchen is the German word for gingerbread, and you can find lots of variations all over the country. Depending on the mixture used for the dough, the result will range from soft and fluffy to crunchy and hard.

What do Germans do on Christmas Day? ›

On Christmas Day and the day after, which are both public holidays, people enjoy a lavish feast on a festively decorated table. The traditional Christmas meal is roast goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

How do they celebrate Christmas in Germany? ›

As is the case across most of Western Europe, Germany's main day of celebration for Christmas is the 24th, the so-called “Heiligabend”. In the morning of the 24th, the Christmas tree is put up and decorated, and in the evening, children get to open their presents.

Why do Germans open presents on Christmas Eve? ›

Jesus brings the presents - sort of

It's neither St. Nikolaus nor Santa who bring German children their presents on Christmas Eve. Rather, it's the Christkind, or Christ child.

Why do Germans eat potato salad on Christmas Eve? ›

Why do Germans eat potato salad on Christmas Eve? According to the old Christian tradition, the period from St Martin's Day on 11 November until 24 December was a time of fasting. That is why a simple dish is served – for example, carp, because fish is the symbolic fasting meal.

What are 7 Fishes of Christmas Eve? ›

This pasta involves seven fish: clams, mussels, halibut, shrimp, anchovy, calamari and scallops. It's nice to have a whole fish, head and tail included, to signify abundance.

What do Germans do for Christmas? ›

While 25th December is still a national holiday in Germany, it's celebrated differently to how we do in England. Traditionally, the family will gather around a heartwarming meal, attend church, children will play with their new toys and the white candle of the Advent wreath (the one in the middle) will be lit.

What are some German traditions? ›

10 typical German traditions
  • Go crazy over Christmas markets.
  • Hanging lost items on trees.
  • The German Christmas tradition of Krampus.
  • Oktoberfest.
  • Birthday celebration traditions.
  • FKK.
  • Keeping thumbs crossed.
  • Frische Luft.
19 Nov 2021


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