The differences between a typical or traditional German and British Christmas celebration

Having spoken to many people about how they celebrate the day and with whom, it has become increasingly clear to me that it is the food and date that provides the starkest contrast.

In over 90% of UK households, they will celebrate Christmas on the 25th December with their family and extended ones with a very traditional Christmas dinner and perhaps one sherry too many. The day normally begins with the opening of presents, especially when Santa has delivered the stockings to the children. Followed by some furious cooking in the kitchen to produce a feast full of trimmings mid-afternoon. This general theme of overindulgence often continues to the evening, perhaps with some board games and films from the golden oldies. 

In Germany, it is traditional to start the Christmas celebrations on the 24th in the evening with a meal consisting of potato salad and sausages, followed by the distribution of presents. The question we asked was, why do Germans eat potato salad on Christmas Eve? 

According to the old Christian tradition, the period from St Martin’s Day on 11 November until 24 December was a time of fasting. That is why a simple dish is served – for example, carp, because fish is the symbolic fasting meal. However, the most popular dish throughout the country is potato salad with sausages; according to a 2016 survey, that is what almost one in two Germans eat on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day and the day after, which are both public holidays, people enjoy a lavish feast on a festively decorated table. The traditional Christmas meal is roast goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

What both Countries have in common is the value of sharing the celebration with loved ones. Whilst the British have more trimmings at the table, everyone enjoys sharing gifts and spending time together, Merry Christmas!