Without a doubt, one of the huge advantages of Miami is that it is a melting pot of different cultures. As a Miami-Dade resident, you get to learn a lot about different traditions and holidays. I was born and raised in Germany and can say that wintertime in Miami is certainly very different from winter in Germany. First, there are actual seasons in Germany meaning it gets very cold which is extremely annoying for everyone with a car but very delightful for kids. I remember being so excited as a kid when it started snowing so I could ride a sleigh and build a snowman.
But besides the temperature, there are several German winter traditions that I would like to share:
St. Martin’s Day
Children in Germany grow up celebrating St. Martin’s Day in school on November 11th. This holiday is celebrated in honor of Saint Martin of Tours, a noble soldier who had cut his cloak in half during a snowstorm to share it with a beggar. In the days leading up to this holiday, children make lanterns in school which they will then use to walk in processions while singing Martin songs. This walk usually leads to a bonfire at a public square. Some families make a festive meal after the event with a St. Martin’s goose (Martinsgans) or go to a restaurant that serves this traditional meal.
Another German tradition leading up to Christmas is a calendar that parents prepare (or buy) for their kids. This Adventscalendar has 24 doors or pockets with candy and sweets inside. Children will open one door each day starting December 1st and ending on December 24th. As a kid, it was always my dream that my mother would buy an advent calendar with Überraschungseiern (a German commercial chocolate egg-shaped candy that contains a plastic toy). However, my mom was always super opposed to plastic so I had a hangable, reusable calendar that she would fill up with 24 goodies every year.
St. Nikolaus is one of the most popular holidays for kids in Germany. On the night before December 6th, children clean their boots and leave them in front of their chimney, or alternatively in front of their door. If they behaved well during the year, St. Nikolaus will come at nighttime while the children sleep and fill their shoes with chocolates and other delectable candy.
Christmas markets are a pretty neat December tradition in Germany. These are outdoor markets set up temporarily at public plazas with several stands selling yummy foods, drinks, and hand-made goods. One of the highlights of a Christmas market is a beverage called Glühwein, a mulled wine made with red wine and spiced with cinnamon and other spices. It might sound odd if you have not tried it. But trust me, it is delicious and keeps you warm during the chilly German winters.
I hope you enjoyed this little cultural exploration of German winter traditions. You might be able to experience some of these traditions without traveling to Germany. In past years, the German-American Social Club organized their own Christmas Market in Miami but obviously, not this year. And to end my article on a fun fact: while German winter traditions might be very different from Miami ones, there is one thing they have in common. They also celebrate Christmas on the night of December 24th. What Cuban people call Noche Buena, is called Heiligabend (Holy Night) in German. I hope everyone enjoys the holidays with their loved ones this year. What are some of the winter traditions your family practices? Let me know in the comments.