Write a Letter to Christkind in Germany

If you believe in the Christkind, then send your letter to Himmelpforten, a small town west of Hamburg in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony.

You may start  your letter with ‘Dear Christkind’ or ‘Dear Santa’ (much less common). Here in Germany (mostly the central and southern part) as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland, children get their presents from the Christkind on Christmas Eve. The word Christkind translates to Christ Child. If you write from northern Germany, you might address your letter to the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).

Frohe Weihnachten!

The post office in Himmelpforten, which translates to Heaven’s Gates, will process your wish list. I don’t know if you get anything from your list, this depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. 🙂
The post office lets you address your letter to either one of them, both the Christkind and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
An das Christkind
21709 Himmelpforten
But the address in itself, says: To the Christkind
No worries, if you don’t know German. Most Germans, placed in a professional setting, can handle letters written in English too.
In German, children write a Wunschzettel (wish list) to the Christkind (or Weihnachtsmann), which is a much more direct statement than just ‘writing a letter’ to Santa.

Christkind Brings the Presents to German Children on Christmas Eve

The Christkind is a figure in Germany that brings presents to the children on Christmas Eve, especially in the southern parts of the country.

Until the reformation in the 16th century, people in Germany did not give each other presents at Christmas, instead the children received their presents from St.Nicholas (Nikolaus) on 6th December.

Martin Luther, however, opposing the catholic saints, apparently introduced the idea of giving presents on 24th December. These were brought by the Christkind, who is often depicted in white and similar to an angel.

It is said that it comes in through the window and leaves presents around the Christmas tree, while the children are out of the room.

Even though the Weihnachtsmann (Santa) is ever more present, especially in the media, people still ask children “What did the Christkind bring you?”

Sitting on Christkind's lap

Sitting on Christkind’s lap

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast: http://bit.ly/gYfHSN
Source: Quoted from Graham Tappenden’s newsletter

Letters to German Santa

We Germans must be a confused Volk when it comes to Christmas-related traditions. I get asked the same questions by foreigners every year, because this is one German issue which lacks Ordnung.

Not only do we celebrate St. Nikolaus on 6 December, but also have the Weihnachtsmann (Santa)  bring presents to German children on Christmas Eve. Then, to top it off, most Germans I know have the Christkind (Christ child) in the form of an angel deliver the presents on Christmas Eve. This is due to regional differences.

In my hometown of Northern Bavaria, it was always the Christkind bringing presents. I have heard northern Germans often have the Weihnachtsmann do the same job. Here in Hesse (central Germany), one can overhear adults asking children after Christmas, “Was hat das Christkind dir denn gebracht?” (What did Christkind bring you?).

Well, we private citizens are not the only one confused.

Yesterday’s paper, Mix am Mittwoch, carried the article Post an den Nikolaus. Here I quote the text:

Kinder können auch in diesem Jahr wieder Briefe an den Nikolaus schreiben. Selbst Briefe, die unfrankiert im Postkasten laden, werden beantwortet. In speziellen Weihnachts-Postämtern arbeiten Ehrenamtliche in den Adventswochen und lesen und beantworten jeden Brief.

Transl: Again this year, children may send their letters to Nikolaus. Each letter, including the ones without postage, will be answered. There are special Christmas post offices, where volunteers read and answer every letter in the weeks of advent.

Nice gesture, I thought. But then I double-checked the paper’s issue date, 7. Dec. Then I had to reflect for two seconds to realize we have never sent letters to Nikolaus. We have sent ours to the Christkind!

My next thought was this could be another marketing ploy by stationary companies and the post-office combined, encouraging children to write two letters each Christmas season. But no, this announcement was made after Nikolaus day.

I am glad to report the German post-office has gone private in the 90s. Otherwise, I’d have to suggest to move the date for the great gift giving to Nikolaus Tag. If a public institution suggested this as the true date, such as in Miracle on 34th Street, then we would believe it, too.


Nikolaus or Santa in Germany

About a week ago, I spotted all these Nikoläuse (plural for Nikolaus) in our local supermarket.

Either the Nikolaus’s  early appearance had lapsed into oblivion over the years, or sales are getting more aggressive. It’s probably a combination of both.

Nikolaus at the German supermarket

These Stiefelgeschenke (stocking fillers) are meant for the morning of December 6, when Nikolaus comes around, and rewards the good children by stuffing goodies into their boots left outside the home.

Even though Nikolaus might resemble Santa, they are two different traditions . Nikolaus was a Greek bishop (4th century) and Santa, well, he is from the Northpole.

I do miss the 60s for our innocence. We children did not expect anything and there was nothing whatsoever, resembling Nikolaus (Dec 6) or Christkind (Dec 24), in any village grocery store. Our parents left us behind with an aunt, when they did their Christmas shopping in the nearby town.

I have to admit I had my first taste of Lebkuchen and Zimtsterne (traditional Christmas cookies). The other day though, I refused a cup of hot Glühwein (mulled wine), as I don’t want to have it too early, because I might get tired of it even before the Christmarket season begins.
At Allthingsgerman, you can read more on Der Niklaustag.


Christmas Pack 1

“Christmas Pack 1” is a collection of 13 transcripts, each in their own PDF file. The pack is a ZIP file containing the 13 PDFs and is available from the AllThingsGerman Download Store.

The transcripts in this pack are:

To find out more, visit the AllThingsGerman Download Store.

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