What’s a Räuchermann?

“Räuchermann” translates to “smoking manikin” or “incense smoker” and – just like the Schwibbogen – is a famous part of German Christmas decorations. It also has its origins in the Ore Mountains, although its tradition is younger than the one of Schwibbögen: Räuchermänner (plural) – or, in the Ore Mountain dialect, “Raachermannel” – were first mentioned in 1850. The small wooden figurines, which are elaborately designed, crafted and also often painted by hand, are hollow on the inside. A cone of incense (“Räucherkerze”) is lighted and then set into the hollowed out part. From there, the smoke travels through the […]

What’s a „Schwibbogen“?
Discover the history on our excursion!

Every year, during the Advent time, decorative candle-holders appear in people’s windows. The so called “Schwibbogen” (“flying buttress”) is a tradition that has its origin in the Ore Mountains and it wasn’t directly connected to Christmas at first. Initially, the Schwibbögen were made of metal and put onto the windowsill to guide the minders home during the darker seasons. Even today, although the mines are mostly used for touristic purposes now, the Schwibbögen can be seen in almost every window in the Ore Mountain region. The word “Schwibbogen” comes from “Schwebebogen” (“floating arch”) which describes an architectural element that looks […]

Non-working Buß und Bettag, but only in Saxony!

Public holidays in Germany are not determined at a national level. Each of the 16 federal states is in charge of making its own decisions when it comes to allowing workers to stay home. In contrast to all of the other 15 states in Germany, here in Saxony you are officially not going to work on the Wednesday, 22 November, and here is why you don’t have to get up early: The German Buß- und Bettag stands for the day of repentance and prayer and has its origins in the very human nature of searching for divine intervention during times […]

Reformation Day

31 October: This day is a religious holiday celebrated by Protestants – usually alongside Halloween. It’s a holiday commemorating Martin Luther who – as it is widely believed – nailed 95 theses on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. With these theses, he demanded the reformation of the church – and laid the ground stone for the Protestant religion. This year is the 500th anniversary Usually, this holiday is not celebrated annually by all German federal states. This year, in celebration of the 500th anniversary, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, […]

Day of German Unity
Tag der Deutschen Einheit

The third of October, which will be a Tuesday this year, is a very emotional day for every German because it brings them back to the years 1989/90 and how Germany was reunited again after 40 years of living in two separate countries. After the second World War, Germany was divided into four military sectors , which were controlled each by the United Kingdom, The Soviet Union, France and the United States. In 1949 the free western sectors united and the Federal Republic of Germany was founded. In the same year the eastern sector was transformed in the German Democratic […]

What’s a “Herrnhuter Stern”?

If you already had the chance to stroll through Dresden’s well known „Striezelmarkt“, you might have noticed the beautiful stars hanging from Christmas trees or sales stands. With their many points enlightened in the dark, they literally look like a sparkling star in the sky. You may have also noticed – if you visited the Welcome Center recently – that there’s such a star above our entrance now. Those specifically formed artworks have a long tradition in Germany and especially in Saxony, as they have their origin in the Saxon city of Nisky. They were first made in a boy’s […]

„Let’s have coffee“

Even if you’ve just come to Germany, you’ve probably already realized we’re a country that loves coffee. The stereotype says, that all Germans love to drink beer – and while that’s partly true – we love coffee even more. There won’t be a day when you don’t see someone taking a sip from a takeaway cup of coffee in the streets and no lunch break is complete without a coffee afterwards. The tradition of drinking coffee in Germany begins in the 17th century. The first coffee houses opened in Bremen and Hamburg – the big seaports where the coffee arrived. […]

Ascension Day, Father’s Day or Gentlemen’s Day?

German traditions can be quite confusing – especially when there’s more than one holiday on a single day! This is why we’d like to explain why groups of males do hiking tours on Ascension Day. Ascension Day is the Thursday forty days after Easter and it’s traditionally a Christian Holiday which commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. That’s the religious background and as it’s a federal holiday in Germany lots of employees use a “Brückentag” (bridging day) to extend their weekend. Even some schools are closed on the Friday following Ascension Day. To find out why groups of […]

Goodbye April – Hello May!

April is traditionally the month where the weather is most unpredictable, whereas the “merry month of May” is known for good weather with lots of sunshine to enjoy. There are several traditions in Germany to say goodbye to the colder seasons and to “help” make summer come quicker. We’d like to introduce you to some of them and who knows – maybe together we can chase away the cold! Walpurgis Night Walpurgis Night or Witches’ Night (in German “Walpurgisnacht” or “Hexennacht”) is celebrated in the night from 30 April to 1 May. The folkloric belief is that in this night […]

Happy Easter – enjoy the traditions!

There are lots of traditions in Germany for each festivity and especially for Easter. That makes it quite difficult to decide which traditions to present to you. We decided on these ones: Easter Fire Easter is a Christian tradition – celebrating the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus – but the Easter Fire is a pre-Christian, a Saxon tradition for which there are several explanations: It might be that the Saxons believed the seasons were like God-like creatures and that, around the time of Easter, Spring was battling with Winter. So the Saxons lit the fires to help Spring chase away […]