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Words you need to understand Christmas in Germany

November 29, 2017

Christmas is celebrated in many countries, but little details — and the words used to describe them — can reveal interesting cultural differences. These terms provide insight into German particularities.

German Christmas tree
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Schuh

Christmas is a time filled with traditions and imagery, and there are countless German words associated with it: "Kerze" (candle), "Wunschzettel" (wish list), "Tannenbaum" (Christmas tree), "Engel" (angel), "Lebkuchen" (gingerbread), "Schneeflocke" (snowflake), "Nussknacker" (Nutcracker) "Zuckerstange" (candy cane), "Rentier" (reindeer), just to name a few.

The English word for "Geschenk," gift, means poison in German, so be careful not to confuse those two.

The words in the gallery above reveal some of the particularities of Christmas in Germany.

Of course, traditions vary from region to region and from one family to the other. The gallery below looks into how the nutcracker, originally a regional handicraft, became a world hit.

You'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheGermans.