Q:

Do people in Germany hang wreaths outside their door at Christmas?

A:

Quick Answer

While some wreaths may decorate doors, Germans traditionally place an Advent wreath on a table. The Advent wreath is made of evergreens and four candles in a circle and one candle in the center.

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Full Answer

The four candles, traditionally three purple and one rose, are lit each Sunday before Christmas accompanied by a prayer. They represent hope, peace, joy and love. The center candle, representing the Christ child, is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some traditions keep this candle lit until Epiphany on January 6.

One theory of the origin of the Advent wreath's is that it was invented in 1833 by a German pastor and orphanage founder to make the wait easier for the children; this wreath used an old cartwheel and four small candles. Another theory suggests that originated with Eastern German Lutherans in the 16th century.

Germans also celebrate Christmas with Christmas trees decorated by adults on Christmas Eve, while the children wait in another room until after dark. They place a manger scene under the tree, along with presents from the Christ Child. Children write letters to Saint Nicholas or the Christ Child, and the placement of shoes outside on Nikolaus Day with carrots for Saint Nicholas' horses.

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