Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Froehiliche Weihnachten"
Location: Western Europe
Tree Type: Traditional
Decorations: Germany was the first country to use glass ornaments as decorations. These ornaments are usually made by local families and sold in winter markets. These markets are held at the begging of the advent season. These markets features hundreds of booths that sell Christmas decorations, candy and gingerbread.
Traditions: The tradition of the Christmas tree began in Germany. During the Middle Ages, Miracle plays were put on to teach the peasants the stories of the bible. A decorated evergreen tree representing the tree of life (Paradise Baum) was present on the stage. The Christmas tree represents that tree of life. Tradition states that when St. Boniface was preaching among the German tribes, he cut down an Oak tree that was sacred to the Germans. As the tree fell it crushed all the other trees around it except a firtree. This fir, Boniface declared, was the tree of Christ and that is why it is associated with Christmas.
The first Christmas trees were undecorated. According to tradition, on a cold, clear winter's night, Martin Luther was walking in the woods when he noticed the twinkling stars among the evergreens. He was so taken by the beauty of what he had seen that, when he returned home, he tied candles on the Christmas tree to show his family. Thus, the tradition of the Christbaum or Christ's tree was born.
In some regions of Germany an unusual tradition is observed called the Christmas pickle. The last ornament that is put on the tree is a glass pickle. This ornament is hidden in the tree. On Christmas morning, the first child who finds the pickle ornament receives an extra present. Another unusual tradition is the carrot ornament, a glass ornament is given to a new bride for her tree, it is assumed to be a symbol of fertility.