Germany certainly knows how to celebrate special occasions, sometimes in rather weird and wacky ways. Here are eight seasonal customs which help to make German celebration days so special.
1. Giving children cones of sweets on their first day of school
As part of perhaps Germany's most enviable school tradition, children are given large, brightly coloured cones filled with sweets on their first day of school. The cones, called Schultüten, are supposed to sweeten the deal of starting full-time education for unwilling first years.
The custom is almost 200 years old and legend goes that the sweets in the cones come from a sugar tree in the school basement, which has matured enough to be picked, just as the children are mature enough to begin school.
2. Running around the city dressed as Krampus
3. Smashing plates before a wedding
There are a number of unusual German wedding traditions but one of the strangest is a pastime called the Polterabend, in which friends and family smash dinnerware to wish the couple luck in their marriage. The name Polterabend means "evening of crashing", and the hope is that, through the crashing of plates and dishes, demons will be scared away by the noise and the newlyweds will be able to live in peace.
For more weird and wonderful German wedding customs: click here
4. Having a massive Easter fire
Unlike in England, you won't find any bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th in Germany, but you will find them at Easter every year. The fires have both a Christian and pagan meaning and can be lit from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
Regardless of the original meaning, nowadays the fires are just a good way to get families and friends together and stay warm.
5. Eating green things on Maundy Thursday
The 'Grün' in Gründonnerstag doesn't actually refer to the colour green, as the word comes from the verb 'greinen' which means to cry. Understandably, however, the Germans opted for a slightly more lighthearted custom than systematic crying on the day of Jesus' last supper.
6. Watching 'Dinner For One' on New Year's Eve
Every New Year's Eve, it is customary to watch this particular 1963 sketch - it is broadcast on most main German TV channels, including all three of ARD's NYE shows. The sketch is in English but was filmed in Hamburg by the NDR and features a butler humouring his rather senile mistress at a dinner party.
In 1988 the sketch broke the Guinness world record for the most repeated TV showings in the world. Despite its international success, the sketch never became popular in England but it is well loved and often reneacted across Germany and Austria.
7. Eating goose and joining a lantern procession for St Martin's day
On St Martin's day, Germans celebrate the saint with a procession of lanterns and singing before going home to eat goose, as the legend goes that St Martin was unwilling to become Bishop and so hid in a goose sty. The geese were not happy to be sheltering a fugitive, however, and squawked loudly, alerting the villagers out looking for him with lanterns. As a punishment to the unruly group of geese, roast goose is the dish of choice for the St. Martin's day festival.
8. Cutting off men's ties on women's carnival night
This custom dates back to 1824 when women decided to storm the Bonn-Beuel city hall and trim a few centimetres off the ties of the men there.
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