German Christmas Traditions with Tom Mills

German Christmas Traditions with Tom Mills


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No one does Christmas quite like the Germans. Visitors from all over the world flock to Germany every winter to kick off the festive season and soak up the abundance of Christmas traditions. In this seminar, we will look at the origins of the most beloved holiday traditions and see how they are celebrated in Germany today.

Christmas Markets are perhaps the most famous of German holiday events. We will find out how they started and why they are still crucial to the local economy today. We will also dive into how religion has changed over the years: from the Pagan roots of Santa Claus to how the Reformation shaped festive traditions and then on to a look at how the present-day Catholic/Protestant divide is felt at Christmastime.

Many beloved German holiday traditions have been copied all over the world, such as the fir tree as the ultimate symbol of Christmas, but others are still unique to Germany: St Martin’s Day is celebrated with lantern-lit parades all over Germany, and children in Bavaria fear and revere Krampus, Saint Nikolaus’ grumpy sidekick who punishes the naughty every Christmas.

Food is central to German Christmas, and we will explore delicious seasonal specialties such as Stollen cake and Fuerzangenbowle. Stories and songs also figure into our conversation and we will touch on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker and the Mouse King among others. We will finish our discussion with a mention of New Year’s Eve celebrations that are spectacular (and downright dangerous) in Germany today!

Led by an expert on Bavarian history, Tom Mills, this interactive seminar will examine how Christmas in Germany. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased awareness of Christmas' history and traditions.

Tom Mills was born in Wolverhampton in the heart of England before studying History and Archaeology at Bangor University. Emerging with an MA he worked as an archaeologist and afterwards an historic conservatory for the National Trust. Moving to Munich in 2012 he began a career as a tour guide and many years later is still there.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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