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Key German words and phrases for a magical Christmas

German words and phrases for Christmas

Christmas carries a magical ambiance, filled with joy, delightful reunions with loved ones, and eagerly awaited relaxation. If you’re anticipating spending these special days in Germany or among German-speaking communities, it’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with key expressions. Here are important German words and phrases in that can prove useful during the Christmas holiday.

Christmas vocabulary in German

The general term for Christmas in German is “Weihnachten.” Yet, you might come across variations like Weihnacht, Christfest, or Heiliger Christ. However, the primary day of celebration for most Germans is the 24th, Christmas Eve. It is referred to as Heiliger Abend or Heiligabend, translating to “Holy Evening.” On this day, children can eagerly anticipate a special visit from Santa Claus, known as Weihnachtsmann in German. Here are some general Christmas terms:

  • Christmas – das Weihnachten
  • holiday – das Fest
  • 24/12. Christmas Eve = Heiligabend
  • 25/12. (1st day of Christmas) = ​​Christtag
  • 26/12. – Saint Stephen’s Day = Stephanstag
  • Christmas carol – das Weihnachtslied
  • Santa Claus – der Weihnachtsmann
  • Christmas market – der Weihnachtsmarkt
  • Christmas tree – der Weihnachtsbaum
  • Christmas wreath – der Weihnachtskranz
  • advent – ​​der Advent
  • midnight mass – die Christmesse
  • wafer – die Oblate
  • gift – das Geschenk

Christmas is incomplete without festive treats, and Germans particularly cherish Adventsbacken, the delightful cakes and cookies prevalent during this season. Some Gebäck (small cookies) are shaped into festive forms like stars and Christmas trees. However, the pinnacle of Adventsbacken is Christstollen, a delightful fruit cake with marzipan originating from Dresden.

  • Christmas baking – das Weihnachtsgebäck
  • carp – der Karpfen
  • Christmas strudel – die Weihnachtsstollen
  • dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms – die Piroggen mit Kraut und Pilzen
  • Christmas goose – die Weihnachtsgans
  • gingerbread – der Lebkuchen
  • red borscht – die Rote-Bete-Suppe
  • sauerkraut with mushrooms – Sauerkraut mit Pilsen
  • kompot – das Kompott
  • poppy seed cake – der Mohnkuchen
  • cheesecake – der Käsekuchen

At the Christmas Eve table

If you want to praise your host’s excellent cooking skills, you can describe the food as “lecker” or “köstlich” (delicious), or simply say “Danke, das hat mir geschmeckt” when the table is cleared. If your uncle insists on serving you more potatoes when you’re already full, you can politely say, “Danke, aber ich kann nicht mehr!” (Thanks, but I can’t eat anymore) or “Das war köstlich, danke, aber jetzt bin ich wirklich satt!” (It was delicious, thank you, but I’m really full now).
Read also: Spread Christmas cheer with these 10 holiday greetings in German

The term for Christmas in Germany is
The general term for Christmas in German is “Weihnachten.”

Opening gifts

Giving gifts is another key tradition for Germans during Christmas. Gifts are usually placed under the Christmas tree, which is called Weihnachtsbaum or Tannenbaum in German. Traditionally, the Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve, although nowadays it is not unusual for people to decorate it much earlier. By the way, the decorations on the Christmas tree, as well as those elsewhere in the house, are known as Schmuck or Weihnachtsschmuck.
Read also: Your guide to Christmas holidays in Germany in 2023

The German word for gift is “das Geschenk.” Attention! “Das Gift” is a common false friend in German because although it sounds like an English word, it actually translates as “poison.” To express gratitude for gifts without constantly saying “Vielen Dank,” you may find some of these phrases useful:

  • Es gefällt mir sehr gut!” (I really like it!)
  • Das ist sehr großzügig von dir.” (That’s very generous of you).
  • Wie hast du gewusst? Ich liebe Schokolade!” (How did you know? I love chocolate!)
  • Was für ein schönes Geschenk. Danke dir.” (What a beautiful gift, thank you).

Verbs used often during Christmas

  • hug – umarmen
  • celebrate – feiern
  • to decorate – schmücken
  • give a gift – schenken
  • bring – bringen
  • sing – singen

Christmas wishes in German

  • I wish you: – Ich wünsche Dir/Euch/Ihnen:
  • Happy Holidays – Alles Gute zum Weihnachten!
  • Happy Christmas! – Frohe Weihnachten!
  • Happiness and health in the New Year! – Ein glückliches und gesundes neues Jahr!
  • Lots of happiness in the New Year! – Viel Glück im Neuen Jahr!

Memorize a few of these German words and phrases, and you’ll be sure to impress your German friends with your language skills this Christmas.