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BellaOnline's German Culture Editor

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St. Nicholas in Germany
There would be no Santa Claus if there hadn't been a St. Nicholas. His reputation as a secret benefactor and giver of gifts was the inspiration for Sinterklaas, and with St. Nicholas Eve on December 5 and December 6 St. Nicholas Day, "Nikolaus" is still a magical time in many regions of Europe.

Advent Calendars, a Countdown to Christmas
December 1 means it's time to open one of the doors of the Advent Calendar, and discover the first of its twenty-four surprises. The countdown to Heiligabend, Christmas Eve, has begun. For generations an Adventskalender has been one of Germany's much loved Weihnachtszeit holiday traditions.

Gluehwein and More - Recipes
Cold weather means traditional warming winter drinks in Germany, but not only for Weihnachten and New Year with its timeless combination of "Gluehwein" and "Christmas/New Year". There are many and here are a few to try, from Gluehwein and Punch to Pharisaeer, with the Pharisaeer story.

Advent Wreaths and an Advent in Germany
Advent Wreaths don't decorate doors in Germany, they sit on flat surfaces or hang from a height and have four candles surrounded by evergreen foliage. One for each of Advent's four weeks. 'Die Adventskraenze', just one of many traditions that are a part of Christmas in Germany.

Germany's Ruhr Valley - The Ruhr Metropolis
Germany's rejuvenated Ruhr Valley has a 750 year industrial history, now transformed into a region of plants, animals and culture the 53 towns and cities were a "European Capital of Culture". A tribute honoring the way the region emphasizes European cultures, and links connecting them.

Traditional German Christmas Cookie Recipes
Weihnachts Plaetzchen, another of Germanyís Christmas traditions. Holiday cookie recipes vary from region to region and family to family, but few homes will be without their favorite Weihnachtskekse for Advent and Christmas. Here are "Pots of Love" and "Coconut Chocolate Macaroons" recipes.

Germany's 'Lucky' Chimney Sweeps
Tradition and superstition surrounds Chimney Sweeps in Europe. Including Germany where the practice and customs of the "Lucky" Schornsteinfeger, in black gold buttoned suit and top hat, are rooted far in the past. In "real life", crafted or in chocolate, a favorite "Good Luck" symbol.

Oberammergau Passion Play
The wind of change has blown through the Bavarian village of Oberammergauís centuries old and unique Passion Play, although Jesusí entrance to Jerusalem, his crucifixion and resurrection remain the focal points.

German Specialty, Roast Goose Recipe
"Koelner Martinsgans" is a delicious St. Martin's Goose specialty from Cologne. Roast Goose, Red Cabbage and Dumplings. Enjoyed from autumn onwards, not only for the Christmas, New Year's Eve and St. Martin's Day festivities, and here is a recipe with the traditional side dishes.

Halloween, All Saints and All Souls Day in Germany
Germany's castles might have real "Ghosts", and Witches, "Forest Goddesses" in pagan times, have returned. But centuries old "All Saints" and "All Souls" Day traditions are as much a part of the season's culture as ever; despite recently introduced "Halloween" and its plastic skeletons.

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