Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I am getting married this year and would like to incorporate some German traditions into my wedding. What kinds of things could I include?

Answer: Well, first of all congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! There are many different German wedding traditions depending on which part of the country you are taking them from. We can't cover every possible tradition but we will share with you some of the more popular ones:

Starting with Polterabend (literally ghost evening). . . a party held on the eve of the wedding. At this party, friends of the engaged couple bring old dishes and other chinaware from old toilets to sinks and then throw them to the ground smashing them into tiny pieces! The bride and groom-to-be spend the evening sweeping up the bits of broken china. The idea behind breaking the china is that the sound of the breaking dishes is thought to ward off any ghosts or evil spirits that might haunt the couple in the future. The couple spends the evening sweeping up the mess to symbolize their ability to work together to face whatever life throws at them.

Right after the wedding ceremony, the newly married couple is presented with the first challenge of their married lives: sawing a log in half! The log is usually supported on saw horses and the bride and groom work together to saw the log in half to symbolize their new found unity.

 

Question: I have recently traced my family's ancestory back to Germany. Could you share with me some german Christmas traditions that I can incorporate in my family's Christmas celebration?

Answer: The Christmas season begins with Advent, the weeks before Christmas. To help count down the days until Christmas, the children are given Advent calendars. Each day, the children open the appropriate "door" on the calendar to reveal a special Christmas picture or a small piece of candy or chocolate.

On the eve of December 6th, children are told to put out their shoes for a visit from St. Nicholas. If the children have been good during the year they will awake to find their shoes filled candies and oranges. If the children have been naughty during the year, they may awake to find their shoes filled with twigs fashioned into a switch!

decorated treeThe Christmas tree is set up on Christmas eve in secret by the parents as a surprise for the children. The tree is decorated with tinsel, lights, and candies. The presents are laid under the tree. Once the finishing touches have been made, a bell is rung to signal the children to come and discover the newly decorated tree.

On Christmas Eve, after a special dinner, the family bundles up and heads off to midnight mass. The Christmas season does not end until Epiphany or Three King's day in January. No presents are exchanged on this day--instead children dress up as the three kings and parade through the town visiting each house to bring good luck for the new year. For their trouble, the "kings" are rewarded with marzipan or other small candies.

Got a question? Send them to us at faq@germanstl.org




German Cultural Society
3652 South Jefferson Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63118
(314) 771-8368

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