Customs and Traditions

Astrid you wrote it so funny :wink:

The above custom is called in the US Yankee Swap, and it’s done either at family Christmas gatherings or corporate Christmas Parties. It can be a gift from $5 to $20 and after you opened a gift you can either keep it or swap it for another already opened one. The last person to open a gift has the last laugh since he can swap his with all the others opened.
The gifts are supposed to be funny or useful, sometimes there are giftcards or even lottery scratch tickets and some gifts nobody wants :smile: - Obviously everyone has fun playing!


We call it White Elephant Gift Exchange.


LOL das mach ich normalerweise gerne, aber ich bin erst jetzt über den Kommentar gestolpert, wenn du die berühmte Schnecke @ vor meine ID lutra setzt, dann bekomme ich direkt eine Benachrichtigung, dann übersetze ich auch zeitnah …
Ich glaube :thinking: ich habe es wegen der Currywurst verpasst, sieh es mir bitte nach.

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That’s funny and perhaps I haven’t been to many of such swaps in order to know the other names, perhaps it’s a state difference or even regional. I’m New England oriented so the Yankee Swap, are you on the west coast? But look at the whole list of names… it’s a gift exchange name madness :rofl:


Ich musste eben auch erst mal überlegen und scrollen
Na, ne Currywurst kann auch verdammt ablenkend sein :joy::joy:
Alles gut @lutra :slight_smile:

It took me forever to find a video that could bring it all together the lanterns, the children singing, the band playing and the fire …

Really, not in our town. There is a traditional ride of someone who acts as St. Martin and the children follow him and at the end there is a big fire and yes Martinswecken are offered here too, but sweets and snacks Halloween is coming more and more here a new tradition, if you like.

From 2009- 2011 we had a Halloween-Parade, I think they stopped because financially it was hard on them.

I never heard that, I grew up with the knowledge that the pre-Christmas season starts with the 1st advent.

I heard that the Martinsgans, was payment for some workers on farms, since early in November the harvesting was done, so they got their pay and some even got the goose.

4th December is the day of St. Barbara/ Barbaratag. To keep her story short and there are many versions no less. She was steady in her believe, she wanted to be a Christian but her father didn’t want her to take on this religion, and instead as she was from a rich family wanted to marry her off, but she didn’t want to, so in the end killed he his own daughter. Before that happened she was captured (as it was told on Dec 4th) and on the way to the jail a branch touched her, and she took it with her and put it into a jar with water and this branch started blooming on Christmas, the day she was killed. So I don’t know where there is a celtic origin, do you know more?

In my childhood we would still clean all of our shows to put them outside our room and hopefully get them filled with lots of sweets and of course the big winter boots had to be one of them. We didn’t hang any socks at all.
But another thing of the pre-Christmas season loved by kids the Adventskalender/ advents calender. Is it known all around the globe? In my days only filled with chocolate, today practically everything you can think of.

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Siehst du, funktioniert. Jetzt aber gute Nacht.

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The “Martinszug” and the following singing from house to house and getting sweets is an old tradition in my region, long ago before Halloween got popular. For the recent years I bought sweets twice, first for Halloween and second for St. Martin and any leftovers are appreciated from my family :slight_smile:

This is a short video from my hometown Bonn, the whole city is filled with children, their parents and lots of spectators.

In my region the Pre-Christmas season starts right with November 11th and you can buy the “Martingsgans” anywhere. You can even buy a kind of lottery ticket in the schools and kindergardens and the main prizes are those gooses :slight_smile:

Concerning the Barbara Day, yes, her origin was Byzantine. But the older tradition was Celtic and because the Christians couldn’t erase those old costums, they overruled them with christian hollows. The Celtic tradition was to cut those branches in order to determine the beginning of the so called “Rauhnächte”. On December 21st is midwinter and the days will get longer and the nights shorter, “the light wins over the darkness”. The old moon calendar from the Celts is 12 days shorter than the sun calendar and those 12 days were a mystic time, where the laws of nature wouldn’t be valid. Those “Rauhnächte” were a time for reflection, for fortune telling, for cleaning the houses to sweep out the remains of the old year, everything which could be dark, unruly and evil. And when the branches bloomed, it was the beginning of those days.


YT suggested a video to me, so I watched it is not all about customs but a bit of traditions, those which you would call your daily life routines. Things you are used to, but seen through the eyes of a stranger.
I found it quite interesting, so maybe you want to watch it. It was done by a student of the university in my hometown in Germany. On a side note the shutters he mentions are not made out of metal only a few parts they main material is actually made out of plastic.

You can say it is quite traditional for any larger or smaller town to have an open market, often literally called “Marktplatz”/market place. In this video you get to see a few impressions from the heart of the city and a few spots to go. You may be able to see (4.03 min) what is left of our former “Pfalz”, a “pfalz” maybe another castle once build for Friedrich Barbarossa, well known figure in history and he did not live there as you would might have thought he probably only came once in a while to hold court. I may put some info to the history topic later …

, and they made a video of the next two closest medieval castles Hohenecken is actually a part of Kaiserslautern, whereas Landstuhl belongs to the district as well as other smaller villages.

It’s kind of a tradition to, as most German hike and go to look up the places in the area to get rid of stress and clear your mind get some fresh air. In my younger days there were a lot of official hiking events, where you would pay a little money, you could get tea or soup or some bread and sausage and at the end you would get a little medal for your achievement normally to chose between 10-20-30 km and as a kid I once wanted to go for gold which was 30 km I was around 8 years I guess, so my parents went with me on a march for quite some hours and pretty much exhausted, but we made it. Hurray, we came to get our medals, and guess what the person giving them out, said - what you walked 30 km - and he gave me the gold medal and a smaller medal on top, because I was a tough girl as he said and told my parents, much to their dismay that children of that age would only need to walk 20 km for getting a gold medal. Anyway we had fun and that walk became a precious memory.
So if you wonder what Germans might do on Sundays when traditionally shops are closed, they might have gone out into nature re-energize.


Germans have nice traditional festivities. So it might be more interesting to visit Germany around winter?

30 km, 8 years old :scream:
Your legs must have great muscles!

What a great tradition!
I love to take a stroll in forests or do treetop adventure circuits, but I miss doing them living in the city.
Do they do treetop adventure circuits in German forests?

So Germans don’t work on Sundays, that is interesting!

I love to visit open markets when I travel, just to know what locals would sell and buy LOL
Each time I travel, it’s on my to-discover list to visit at least 1 open market from the place, we can even taste some local products and strike a conversation with merchs! That’s so nice!

Any nice open market in Germany?

The most fresh products I’ve seen so far was when I was in an open market in the Netherlands: fish, fruits and veggies, flowers. They craft beautiful floral bouquets and flower wreaths.

Dutch pastries and biscuits are of another kind, like: Stroopwafel!

It’s so much sweet with the caramel stuffing, but I like it with a big cup of hot tea. Really warming during winter. The temperature there is like freezing for me, much wind from canals LOL Go there during tulips season, not during winter.

What is the story behind tulips?
It’s the only country where I’ve been to exclusive tulip bulbs shops in the middle of souvenirs shops (or it might be souvenirs shops in the middle of tulip bulbs shops).

We share the same timezone! UTC+01:00! Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France!

In Europe, there are just so many different countries next to each other! Germany and many others! Just a few hours by train or plane and you arrived in another country with a different language and culture lol
Great diversity!


What about Indian customs and traditions?

I remember Irmar talking about some of them in another thread (I don’t remember which one) with the right hand (food, no ustensils) and left hand (for bed activities lol).

I had an Indian female friend back in middle school days.
I remember when she became old enough to have her menstruation, she organized a big “party” with all family and friends. Is it still a tradition for an Indian woman?
Why is it important for an Indian woman when she has her first period? (I think it’s kind of a sad day from one’s perspective LOL Painful cramps!)

I remember the white flowers in her hair (really good fragrance), the paint on her hands and the beautiful traditional dresses (like she changed many outfits).

But the only thing I have to say is:
Don’t eat Indian food when you travel LOL This is a really bad idea for your stomach.
(Except if you have relatives that recommend you an Indian restaurant they’ve often been to.)

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Well, most.
What is open on Sundays?
Churches, gas stations, hospitals, nursing homes, public transportation run, but most lines will have a reduced offer, taxis, cafés, restaurants.

Oh, and I don’t know about other countries but most hair salons are closed on Mondays, since they work Tuesday to Saturdays for having 2 days off, they got the Monday as a rest day.

And most towns have 2-4 open Sundays, when shops have open from 1 pm to 6 pm, they are prohibited on certain holidays and in the time of advent.

There are some, I only know one from my region, but never been there, I avoid high places. In German they are called “Baumwipfelpfad”

This is the oldest - around 1 hour drive from my place

and this is a bit further 2 hours

And a chain bridge is this something you like?

Or something like this?

Unfortunatly not all in English.

Famous and also frequented by tourists.
Hamburg: Hamburger Fischmarkt
Munich: Viktualienmarkt
Stuttgart: Markthalle
For markets you must get information, f.e. in my town we have market on Tuesday and Saturday at the Stiftsplatz on Thursdays it’s another place and it is open from 7am until 1.30 pm

Can’t answer all now, need some sleep

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I have to work on Sundays, weekends, holidays (doesn’t matter that everything around is closed) and I “hate” it when everyone during holidays wish you merry christmas or happy Easter when they clearly see that I am at work :upside_down_face:

But I would visit some things in Germany during summer, others in winter.
But it depends on which region and what ya wanna do :slight_smile:


I overlooked you question, well …
In winter like in France things can be nice or not, if you are not into cold, rainy, snowy weather better not, if you do not care about the weather, then come whenever you want.
Outside activities are either not possible or only possible in the winter. Winter sports actually are most in the Alps happening in other regions the climate change is happening and there is no snow for sure.
Because it’s often rainy and cold outdoor activities aren’t that “nice”, of course there are indoor activities, but not every region/town has it, like bouldering, even swimming, skating, …
Some tourist attraction are even closed, because they are old and the constant change of air and temperature can’t be regulated. Especially some castles might be closed or have shorter access.
But what do we have in winter that we do not have in summer?
Christmas markets, skating rings outside/indoors (some indoors place in the sports areas may be operating all year but if they are then open for public, I do not know).
Carnival - there are sessions and there are street parades, depends heavily on the region you go to, some don’t do it at all, other regions seem to go full force the biggest example Cologne.

Carnival starts in autumn November 11 at 11.11 am.
This year it was still practiced but if it’s possible next year, there are already a lot of cancellations. Depending on the Christian calendar it ends in the night to Ash Wednesday as fasting before Eastern starts. It’s also called the 5th season in Germany.

A nice one in Advent, poor people, children were allowed to improve their living a bit by given food or whatever. On 3 Thursdays they would go around the houses when sun was about to set and sing they would sing Christmas carols and would in return get apples, pears, bacon or even some pennies in return.

One that is my only fixed DIY project for the year, if I don’t get to do anything at all the Adventskranz is the one I will do it myself and you will see the Adventskalender I mentioned earlier in a comment.

The oldest Christmas Market in Dresden where you get the traditional Dresdner Stollen

In Germany the 4 Advents Sundays are not meant for shopping, so no open Sundays for the regular shops allowed, only on the Christmas Markets you can buy something. Normally Saturdays the shops do extend their business hours, so everyone can find their Christmas present in time. Be aware that most shops will close earlier on Christmas Eve either at noon or in the evening. Christmas Eve is no holiday but the following 2 days are as the are called 1. and 2. Weihnachtsfeiertag, yes we kind of count them and I know that in English the 1st one is Christmas Day and the 2nd one Boxing Day.

What do Germans eat on Christmas, well everything is possible? Traditionally you would go for a filled goose, but Wiener Würstchen and Kartoffelsalat are common as well.
(wiener and potato salad).

Of course, we would do a lot of cookie baking, if we have the time, if not there are a lot of choices to buy, my favorite to buy are small Lebkuchenherzen( ginger bread hearts filled with apricot jam. My favorite to bake are probably Mandelherzen/Almond hearts.

The exchange of gifts in Germany is traditionally on Christmas Eve, now you know why shops do not open that late, so most people can be at home.

And a lot of Germans who do not go to church over the year will go on Christmas, so one of the days you can expect a filled church is this one. I was never to keen of it, I am not a friend of standing too close in churches, and I was always the polite one letting the elder ones sit, so I would stand in the back for an hour with a bit of luck close to the door catching a cold. My mothers wish was ones to go to a Christmas Mass as the pastor retired so for the last time we went there, and he made it tradition there to switch off the light at the end of the mass and only with a few candles and the illuminated Christmas Tree we would sind Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht/ Silent Night Holey Night.

But if you thought this is it for the year no more food, well there is still Sylvester to come.
Similar to Christmas Eve shops will close earlier.
But for Christmas there are two option you will be at home or you will go out.
At home with family and/or friends either you cook a feast or make a big buffet, some do raclette (orignal from Swiss), or fondue (original from French/Swiss … many countries have different versions). You might just go out in the streets to celebrate that is possible in some cities or communities.
And at midnight there will be fireworks and everyone will wish the other a Frohes Neues Jahr/Happy New Year.
In the morning depending on your state you can eat herrings or Neujahrsbretzel, this pretzel is normally bigger than the regular German pretzel some may know, it’s made of a slightly sweet yeast dough and you would eat it with butter, honey, jam …
The herrings are often made a day or two before eaten, because the taste and tenderness will increase after being covered with onions, apples and a lot of cream.

Are we done with everything regarding Christmas in Germany? No!
There is still the 6th January the day of the Three Holey Kings when the kids from the catholic parish go around. These you must “order” them to come, so they can organize better. Sternsinger (star singers) go from house to house and sing to get money for children in need around the world.

So this for now @piranna I hope something interesting is there for you.
I am sure I forgot something but there are others so maybe they will fill in.


There are waaaaaay too many to count, and I can’t speak for the whole of India, since each state has it’s own customs and traditions.
We have lots and lotssss of festivals, and weddings last for at least a week.

I don’t have that custom but it’s usually important because it’s sort of the day a ‘girl’ turns into a ‘woman’, so it’s celebrated.

Those are jasmines. I just looove their fragrance :slight_smile:

Ahahaha that’s because we love our masalas and oils and ghee(class of clarified butter), which some people may not be used to. But the fast food here is something everyone should try, but yeah, you should have a good guide.

That’s the thing I love most in my culture. Each state has their own traditional clothes and everything is sooo pretty :heart_eyes:
I’m lucky because I live in the commercial capital, Mumbai, so we have a total mix of cultures living together. At my graduation party, there were so many different styles from different states it was fun to see everyone arrayed in their own states’ outfits. I myself was wearing a saari for the first time, and I remember my mom was totally worried that it would unravel or something by mistake :joy::joy:
But I had a really good time, and if there’s one thing that Mumbaikars know to do best, it’s PARTYING, and eating.


Lol Indian weddings all the way! Let’s celebrate it for 1 week!


Have you been to a Holi festival? Is Diwali celebrated differently in different regions? Probably on my bucket list.

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Yup. Our entire society (I live in an apartment complex with fifty blocks) comes out onto the ground and splashes colour and water on everyone. It’s literally the most fun festival ever…there’s colour everywhere and the pool turns completely multicoloured :grin: we keep running up to our parents’ houses to refill the squirt guns and stuff…its chaos.

It’s celebrated almost the same. but on different levels of importance.There’s another festival called Dussehera around the same time, so different states give more importance to one of the two. You know which one is more important in which state by the number of holidays we get for each festival :smile:

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That sounds like a lot of fun. Again, bucket list post Covid-19 apocalypse. What is Dussehera?

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Is there a particular name for the herring dish?It sounds delicious.