Languages › German Traditional Holiday Terms in German Share Flipboard Email Print Illustration by Jiaqi Zhou. ThoughtCo. German Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar Table of Contents Expand German Christmas Greetings German New Year’s Greetings Advent to Baumkuchen Candles to Crèche (Manger) Christmas to Crescent Father Christmas to Glass Ball Holly to Ring Saint Nicholas to Wreath by Hyde Flippo Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture. Updated November 04, 2019 Whether you're celebrating Christmas in a German-speaking country or you want to bring a few old-world traditions home, these German phrases and traditions will make your holiday truly authentic. The first two sections below contain general German Christmas and New Year's greetings followed by the English translations. The subsequent sections are grouped alphabetically, with the English word or phrase printed first, followed by the German translations. German nouns always start with a capital letter, unlike English, where only proper nouns or nouns that begin a sentence are capitalized. German nouns are also generally preceded by an article, such as die or der, which means "the" in English. So, study the tables, and you'll be saying Fröhliche Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas) as well as many other German holiday greetings in no time. German Christmas Greetings German Greeting English Translation Ich wünsche I wish Wir wünschen We wish dir You Euch You all Ihnen You, formal deiner Familie Your family Ein frohes Fest! A joyous holiday! Frohe Festtage! Season's Greetings! / Happy Holidays! Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Christmas! Frohes Weihnachtsfest! [A] joyous Christmas celebration! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Merry Christmas! Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest! A blessed/joyous Christmas! Gesegnete Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr! A blessed Christmas and a happy new year! Herzliche Weihnachtsgrüße! Best Christmas greetings! Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuen Jahr! A joyful Christmas (festival) and best wishes for the new year! Zum Weihnachtsfest besinnliche Stunden! [We wish you] Contemplative / reflective hours during the Christmas celebration! Ein frohes und besinnliches Weihnachtsfest! A merry and reflective/thoughtful Christmas! German New Year’s Greetings German Saying English Translation Alles Gute zum neuen Jahr! Best wishes for the new year! Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! A good start in the new year! Prosit Neujahr! Happy New Year! Ein glückliches neues Jahr! Happy New Year! Glück und Erfolg im neuen Jahr! Good fortune and success in the new year! Zum neuen Jahr Gesundheit, Glück und viel Erfolg! Health, happiness, and much success in the new year! Advent to Baumkuchen Advent (Latin for "arrival, coming") is the four-week period leading up to Christmas. In German-speaking countries and most of Europe, the first Advent weekend is the traditional beginning of the Christmas season when open-air Christmas markets (Christkindlmärkte) appear in many cities, the most famous ones being in Nuremberg and Vienna. Baumkuchen, listed below, is a "tree cake," a layered cake whose interior resembles tree rings when cut. English Word of Phrase German Translation Advent calendar(s) Adventskalender Advent season Adventszeit Advent wreath Adventskranz Angel(s) der Engel Basel chocolate balls Basler Brunsli Baumkuchen der Baumkuchen Candles to Crèche (Manger) Candles, with their light and warmth, have long been used in German winter celebrations as symbols of the sun in the dark of winter. Christians later adopted candles as their own symbols of the "Light of the World." Candles also play an important role in Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish "Festival of Lights." English Word or Phrase German Translation Carol(s), Christmas carol(s): Weihnachtslied (-er) Carp der Karpfen Chimney der Schornstein Choir der Chor Crèche, manger die Krippe Christmas to Crescent Christ Child translates into German as das Christkind or das Christkindl. The moniker "Kris Kringle" is actually a corruption of Christkindl. The word came into American English via the Pennsylvania Germans, whose neighbors misunderstood the German word for the bringer of gifts. With the passage of time, Santa Claus (from Dutch Sinterclaas) and Kris Kringle became synonymous. The Austrian town of Christkindl bei Steyr is a popular Christmas post office, an Austrian "North Pole." English Word or Phrase German Translation Christmas das Weihnachten, das Weihnachtsfest Christmas bread/cake, fruit cake der Stollen, der Christstollen, der Striezel Christmas card(s) Weihnachtskarte Christmas Eve Heiligabend Christmas market(s) Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt Christmas pyramid die Weihnachtspyramide Christmas tree der Christbaum, der Tannenbaum, der Weihnachtsbaum Cinnamon star(s) Zimtstern: Star-shaped, cinnamon-flavored Christmastime cookies Cookies Kekse, Kipferln, Plätzchen Cradle Wiege Crib Krippe, Kripplein Crescent(s) Kipferl Father Christmas to Glass Ball In the 16th century, Protestants, led by Martin Luther, introduced "Father Christmas" to replace Saint Nicholas and to avoid the Catholic saints. In the Protestant parts of Germany and Switzerland, Saint Nicholas became der Weihnachtsmann ("Christmas Man"). In the U.S., he came to be known as Santa Claus, while in England children look forward to a visit from Father Christmas. English Word of Phrase German Translation Father Christmas (Santa Claus) der Weihnachtsmann: Fir tree der Tannenbaum (-bäume) Fruit bread (Christmas bread) der Stollen, das Kletzenbrot Garland die Girlande Gift(s) das Geschenk Gift giving die Bescherung Gingerbread der Lebkuchen Glass ball die Glaskugel Holly to Ring In pagan times, Holly ( die Stechpalme) was believed to have magical powers that kept evil spirits away. Christians later made it a symbol of Christ's crown of thorns. According to legend, the holly berries were originally white but turned red from Christ's blood. English Word or Phrase German Translation Holly die Stechpalme King(s) der König Three Kings (Wise Men) die Heiligen Drei Könige, die Weisen Kipferl das Kipferl: An Austrian Christmas cookie. Lighting die Beleuchtung Outdoor lighting die Außenbeleuchtung Lights die Lichter Marzipan das Marzipan (almond paste candy) Midnight mass die Christmette, Mitternachtsmette Mistletoe die Mistel Mulled, spiced wine der Glühwein ("glow wine") Myrrh die Myrrhe Nativity die Krippe, Krippenbild, die Geburt Christi Nut(s) die Nuss (Nüsse) Nutcracker(s) der Nussknacker Organ, pipe organ die Orgel Ornaments, ornamentation die Verzierung, der Schmuck Poinsettia die Poinsettie, der Weihnachtsstern Reindeer das Rentier Ring (bells) erklingen, klingeln Saint Nicholas to Wreath Saint Nicholas is not Santa Claus or the American "Saint Nick." Dec. 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, is the day upon which the original Bishop Nicholas of Myra (now in Turkey) is commemorated and is the date of his death in the year 343. He was later granted sainthood. The German Sankt Nikolaus, dressed as a bishop, brings gifts on that day. According to legend, it was also Bishop Nicholas who created the Christmas tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace. The kindly bishop is said to have thrown bags of gold for the poor down the chimney. The bags landed in stockings that had been hung by the fire to dry. This Saint Nicholas legend may also partly explain the American custom of Santa coming down the chimney with his bag of gifts. English Word or Phrase German Translation Saint Nicholas der Sankt Nikolaus Sheep das Schaf (-e) Shepherd(s) der Hirt (-en), der Schäfer Silent Night Stille Nachte Sing singen Sled, sleigh, toboggan der Schlitten Snow (noun) der Schnee Snow (verb) schneien (It's snowing - Es schneit) Snowball der Schneeball Snowflake die Schneeflocke Snowman der Schneemann Snow sled/sleigh der Schlitten Snowy schneeig Snow covered schneebedeckt Stable, stall der Stall Star(s) der Stern Straw star(s) der Strohstern (Strohsterne): a traditional Christmas decoration made of straw. Tinsel das Lametta, der Flitter Toy(s) das Spielzeug Wreath der Kranz Continue Reading What Are the Different Santa Clauses in German-Speaking Countries? What Is the German Version of "The Night Before Christmas"? German Holidays Customs and Celebrations How to wish someone a merry Christmas in German German Colors (Farben) English: German Color Chart Do You Know When German Holidays Are Celebrated? Do You Know the Meaning of the German Carol "O Tannenbaum" Creative New Year's Wishes and Expressions in German Why Germans Revere Shakespeare German Gift Ideas (Geschenkideen) The Translation of 'Edelweiss' Isn't Exact but Keeps the Song's Tone Where Is German Spoken? Wo Spricht Man Deutsch? Do You Know How to Sing "Jingle Bells" in German? The Federal States of Germany and Nationalities in German Language Can You Sing '99 Red Balloons' in German, the Way It Was Written? What Are the German Lyrics for "Silent Night"?