There are loads of countries around the world that celebrate Christmas. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s probably one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the year. Christmas in South Africa, for instance, is also quite special. But I’d say the fact that we’re in the middle of our summer during that time makes our Christmas slightly less traditional. Snow for instance, is a foreign concept altogether! Seriously. I saw snow for the first time in my life, last year. When I tell Germans this they think I’m joking. When they realise I’m being totally serious, a look of utter amusement appears on their faces. I have to agree though, snow definitely does add a special touch of magic to Christmas, but that’s only one part of the magic. There are many countries that are covered in snow during this time of year. Yet never in my life have I ever experienced Christmas, or even imagined it, the way I have since I’ve been living in Munich. The festive season literally takes on a life of its own.
Now I’m not only talking pretty Christmas decorations and carols in the malls. I’m talking the full monty. Germans celebrate Christmas with traditions that I didn’t even know existed. Plus, I’ve also found out that all the traditions I did know about, originated in Germany. No surprise there! But it’s more than simply traditional. You can feel it in the air, the moment the first advent arrives. On this day, four weeks before Christmas, all the Christmas markets kick into action, the first candle on the advent wreath is lit and a whole host of Christmas traditions come into play. And they’re not mere activities that people do. They’re traditions that have been passed down over centuries and have become a part of life. These include an advent calendar counting down the days before Christmas, the already-mentioned advent wreath, eating delicious Lebkuchen (gingerbread), baking Plätzchen (wonderful Christmas cookies) with family and friends, going to the Christmas markets with loved ones and drinking Glühwein to ward off the cold, buying and decorating an evergreen Christmas tree (also a tradition that originated in Germany in the 1600s, by the way), to mention but a few. All the while, the Christmas spirit is almost tangible. Not even the freezing weather is enough to put a damper on it.
And ironically, this was when I started thinking about PR opportunities. I’m convinced that the all-round good cheer could really come into handy when reminding all your clients (and your clients’ clients) of the fantastic job you’ve done throughout the year. Couple that with a box of home made Plätzchen or Lebkuchen (recipes are available online), and your client might just be asking you for your Christmas wish list. Just a thought…
But on a more serious note, I can now honestly say that I firmly believe everyone should experience Christmas in Germany at least once in their lives. It’s a magical time that you’ll never forget.