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December 24 - December 25 2024

Christmas decorative glass balls
© DeiaGreg/Amazing Capitals

Celebrating Christmas across the Ruhr Metropolis in Germany is similar to other European countries. December 24 is the most important date, followed by December 25 and 26. While these two days are the official holidays in Germany, many are able to leave work early on Christmas Eve.

The evening of December 24 is the major day of celebration and togetherness, traditionally reserved for family gatherings that can be rather solemn. Eating together and exchanging gifts next to the Christmas tree are the highlights of the Christmas festivities, while activities such as reciting poems or singing songs have also widespread. Presents are generally distributed on this day.

Partying is less widespread on that day than in anglophile countries and tends to be reserved for December 25 or 26 as the time to enjoy being with more distant family or friends. Going to church and practising religious rituals is not so common nowadays due to modern attitudes and a steady increase of secularisation in German society. Regional traditions have been preserved mostly in rural communities. Mass media and commerce naturally have a deep impact on Christmas celebrations in the cities, similar to all urban areas of the western influenced world.

Local and Distant Traditions

Many rituals mark the Christmastime period. For example Advent wreaths with four candles, Adventskranz, which are progressively lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas Eve. A skill that many locals learn in their early years. A type of Christmas cake, Stollen, and gingerbread houses can also be baked for days on end among families. 

Most children and even a few adults believe that busy Santa Claus visits Germany too while circling the globe. Just like the Finns, many Germans believe that Saint Nick lives way up there in snowy Lapland in his untranslatable Korvatunturi. So too do most postal services around the world that deliver tons of letters penned in all manner of languages to Santa. Some North Americans beg to disagree. That rather rotund and cheerful gent with a long white beard in his bright red robe is the official Mr Christmas and definitely from the US.

Germans are renowned for presenting the festive season with a terrific tradition of Christmas markets, Weihnachtsmärkte. They can be found all across the country for a month or more during the time before and occasionally after Christmas. The Christmas tree is said to have been popularised in the country too. Martin Luther of reformation fame was rumoured to have been impressed by twinkling stars above the pine trees on a starry night. Thus trees decorated with candles became popular to recreate the sensation at home. Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria popularised the Christmas tree in Britain during the mid nineteenth century. From there, it was a small step to North America and the rest is history.

Farther afield millions of families in dozens of countries enjoy their Christmas day turkey meal. Others traditionally eat lamb, prawns or carp and other delicacies. For many expats who spend Christmas in their new home abroad, merely obtaining eggnog, cinnamon or mince pies can bring the greatest pleasure during the festive season. Thankfully the globalised world, quick deliveries and a host of delicious online recipes enable indulgence here too.

By Vincent Green, Jan 2 2022

Image of popcorn


Original language movies are popular among expats living across the Ruhr Metropolis. Films are screened regularly in English original with subtitles, known as OmU and without, portrayed as OV. A wide variety of cinemas or movie theatres can be found, both large and small.


Many open spaces entice hikers into the surrounding countryside. Try heading out to wonderful hillsides and woodlands or reclaimed industrial areas. The Ruhr region also offers pathways and trail around impressive lakes or former important waterways.


When a four-legged member of the family is feeling poorly, the two-legged ones suffer too. And when something more serious is amiss, then skilled help can be urgently required. Vets in Germany are highly trained, professional and caring.

The Events Overview

From stunning light shows to funfairs, Christmas markets to marathons, jazz to reggae music gigs and long standing festivals, living in the Ruhr offers many great reasons to celebrate. Virtually any excuse creates an opportunity for street activities where a kaleidoscope of events take place every year. Photo Ruhr Tourismus / Eckhard Spengler.