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Christmas Greetings in German for a Jolly, Sparkly, Gingerbready Christmas

Germans take a lot of things pretty seriously, and Christmas is no exception. Among countless traditions, they’re the reason we have Christmas trees, Kris Kringle, and Christmas markets. Whether you're celebrating Christmas in a German-speaking country, writing a German Christmas card, or have a German-speaking family, understanding some Christmas greetings in German will make your holiday season truly magical and authentic. To help, this article will cover some of the most popular German Christmas greetings used today.

German Christmas Traditions

One of the most important Christmas traditions in Germany is the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). These Weihnachtsmärkte take place all over Germany, but a few of the most famous ones are found in Aachen, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Hamburg, and Leipzig. They typically start in mid-November and carry on until December 24th or later.

christmas market

The Weihnachtsmarkt is a place to meet with friends and socialize over some warm Glühwein (mulled wine). They mark the beginning of the holidays, where you can overhear many people giving each other Christmas wishes in German. Within the Weihnachtsmarkt, you can also stroll through the many stalls of Kunsthandwerke (artisan crafts), ranging from jewelry to intricate wood carvings. Afterwards, if all the Glühwein has you feeling peckish, you can munch on some delicious Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or devour a Bratwurst—an authentic German sausage in a bread roll, served with your choice of ketchup or Senf (mustard).

Another German Christmas tradition is the Adventskranz (Advent wreath). Many families in Germany have an Adventskranz, which is typically placed on the living room table on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The wreaths have four large candles and are traditionally decorated with pinecones and berries. The first candle is lit on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The second candle is lit on the second Sunday before Christmas, and so on and so forth. When lighting a candle, the family typically spends a quiet, reflective hour together or sings Weihnachtslieder (Christmas carols). They may also exchange German Christmas phrases to celebrate the onset of the season.

advent christmas tradition

Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of Children, and his Feast Day is celebrated on December 6th. On the eve of Sankt Nikolaus Tag, children leave their shoes outside their door. If they’ve been good, they’ll receive treats, but if they’ve been naughty, they’ll receive a twig or coal. This is where the legend of the Krampus comes from. According to folklore, Krampus is a horned creature (half-goat, half-demon) who kidnaps naughty children by stuffing them into his sack and taking them to his lair.

Unlike many English-speaking countries around the world, Germans typically celebrate Christmas on der Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), rather than on Christmas Day. On Christmas on der Heiligabend, German families open presents, exchange German Christmas wishes, have Christmas dinner, decorate the Christmas tree, and attend Christmas Mass.

Before we get into some Christmas greetings in German, it’s important to note that in the German language, nouns are always capitalized. This is not the same as in English, where only proper nouns or words at the beginning of a sentence are capitalized. Furthermore, German nouns are generally preceded by an article, such as der, die, or das, which means "the" in English.

Merry Christmas in German

Frohe/fröhliche Weihnachten!

Happy Christmas!

Frohes Weihnachtsfest!

(A) joyous Christmas celebration!

Frohe Festtage!

Happy holidays!

Ein frohes Fest!

A joyous holiday!

Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest!

A blessed Christmas!

Herzliche Weihnachtsgrüße!

Best Christmas greetings!

Mögen sich all deine Wünsche erfüllen

May all your wishes come true

lebkuchen gingerbread

Greetings for the new year

Frohes neues Jahr!

Happy New Year!

Prosit Neujahr!

Happy New Year!

Ein glückliches neues jahr

Happy new year!

Guten Rutsch!

This is our favorite German new year greeting. Literally translating to “a good slide,” this is how to wish someone a happy new year.

Alles Gute zum neuen Jahr!

Best wishes for the new year!

Frohes Neues!

Literally translating to “happy new one,” this is another way to say “happy new year!”

Glück und Erfolg im neuen Jahr!

Good luck and success in the new year!

Some vocabulary stocking fillers

Here are some extra German Christmas vocabulary that you’re likely to encounter in a German-speaking country:

der Weihnachtsmann — Santa Claus

das Christkindl — the Christ child

der Christbaum/Tannenbaum/Weihnachtsbaum — Christmas tree

die Stechpalme — holly

die drei Weisen — three wise men

die Mistel — mistletoe

die Krippe/Krippenbild — nativity

German Christmas Sayings

With all of the popularity surrounding this holiday in Deutschland, there are many ways to exchange Merry Christmas wishes in German. In addition to many of the traditional phrases we discussed above, you can also exchange additional sentiments. Whether you want to write German Christmas card messages or just tell a loved one you’re thinking of them, consider some of the following ways to give a Christmas greeting in German.

  • Frieden auf Erden — peace on Earth
  • Weihnachtszeit ist Erinnerungszeit — Christmas is a time to remember
  • Ich habe ein Geschenk für dich — I have a gift for you
  • Danke für das Geschenk — thank you for the gift
  • Ich möchte dir einen lieben Nikolausgruß überreichen — I wish to give you a loving Nicholas greeting
  • Ich wünsche dir/euch/Ihnen ein braves Christkind — I wish you a well-behaved Christ child
  • Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude — Anticipation is the greatest joy
  • Prost — Cheers!
  • Du machst Weihnachten festlicher — You make Christmas merrier
  • Mögen sich all deine Wünsche erfüllen — May all your wishes come true
  • Komm, Herr Jesu, sei du unser Gast und segne was du uns beschert hast — Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and bless what you have bestowed

Now you know how to give your warmest holiday welcome to your loved ones in person and how to write a Christmas card in German to send to your friends from afar!

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