Many German traditions began in antiquity. They’ve continued through time, and as settlers moved to different locations they took root in a new land.
- Oktoberfest. What could be more German than Oktoberfest? This festival is held every year in Munich, and lasts sixteen to eighteen days. Millions of visitors a year come to sample the beer and food. In every village in Germany, October was always the month of the harvest festival, but Oktoberfest was a special event planned to honor the royal wedding of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria which took place on October 12, 1810. The festival was later moved up to begin in late September to accomodate for better weather.
- Christmas Tree. This German tradition was believed to have started in the sixteenth century. Early Christmas trees were garnished with candles and homemade ornaments. In ancient Germanic culture, people would adorn boughs of evergreen with candles and fruit in honor of Woden, god of wisdom, war, magic, and death.
- Gingerbread houses. Synonymous with the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, these tasty houses have been a German tradition since 1893. Bakers traditionally display gingerbread houses in store windows every Christmas season. Germans are quite prolific with their gingerbread, one Nuremburg exporter produces three million pieces of the tasty treat a day during the holiday season to be shipped world wide.
- Easter egg bunny. A bunny that can lay eggs? Apparently this German tradition got a bit twisted during pagan times. Easter was a Christian holiday that corresponded with the pagan vernal equinox, which took place around March 21st of each year. Legend has it that the goddess Eostre saved a bird whose wings had frozen by turning it into a rabbit. Because the creature was originally a bird, it could lay eggs in rabbit form. The Pennsyvania Dutch brought the Easter bunny to the new homeland of America in the 1700’s.
- Beer. Nothing says German tradition like beer; it is a major part of German culture. All German beer must adhere to the strict recipe of Reinsheitgebot. This simple recipe lists only water, malt, and hops as ingredients. The tradition of Reinsheitgebot is believed to have originated in Bavaria, where half of German breweries are located. Evidence of beer brewing in Germany dates back to 800 BC.
Posted on: Apr. 19, 2011