Weihnachten Hamburg
© mediaserver.hamburg.de / Christian Ode

Every year again

Christmas traditions and customs in Hamburg

Christmas is known to be the most wonderful time of the year: Houses and cities are warmly decorated, everything becomes a bit more contemplative and our Christmas traditions bring back childhood memories. Some traditions exist throughout Germany, for example the Advent calendar or the Christmas tree, others only in certain regions of the country. One thing is certain: many customs are emblematic of an entire region - for example, the famous Lübeck marzipan or Dresden Christstollen. Here we show you which beautiful and also bizarre customs Hamburg is known for.

Hamburg's floating »Alstertanne«

Every year, almost 1,000 lights illuminate the floating fir tree on the Binneralster lake. The "Alstertanne" has long since become a symbol of the Christmas and Advent season in Hamburg. For over two decades, Hamburg's residents have upheld this cherished Christmas tradition, decorating a tree that reaches heights of up to 15 meters, right at the spot where the Alster fountain jets into the air during the summer months. We truly love the fir in all its beauty!

Alstertanne Hamburg
© m. letschert – stock.adobe.com

Traditional Christmas tree throwing

Just in time for the Christmas season, numerous trees are once again being knocked down in the Port of Hamburg - but in a completely different way than you might think. The annual "Tannenbaumwerfen" has become the most maritime Christmas tradition in Hamburg since 1997. Santa Claus then sails through the Port of Hamburg on a small ship and distributes around 50 Nordmann firs to the ship's crews, so that the sailors can have a nice Christmas even far away from home.

The world famous Advent wreath of Hamburg

It's a familiar sight to everyone—the renowned Advent wreath. Four candles are framed by lots of fir greenery and natural decorations such as pine cones, mistletoe, and cinnamon sticks. Today, the Advent wreath can be found in almost every household during the Christmas season, but hardly anyone knows that this very typical Christmas tradition traces its origins back to a gentleman from Hamburg.

Johann Hinrich Wichern is considered the inventor of the Advent wreath: in 1839, he fitted an old wagon wheel with 23 candles - one for each day from the first of Advent until Christmas Eve. It was supposed to be a kind of Advent calendar for all those children who asked him every day when Christmas would finally be. For reasons of space, however, the variant with four candles - one for each Sunday in Advent - has prevailed over the years. Nevertheless, it remains to be said: The Advent wreath has become a tradition originating from Hamburg.

© Ralf Oreskovic auf Pixabay
From Hamburg into the world - The "Wichern" Advent wreath.

Festive carp dinner on Christmas Day

It is a well-known fact that people in Hamburg eat fish, especially carp on Christmas Day. Initially, the sumptuous carp meal was a custom of the wealthy Hamburg society. Traditionally, mussels and walnuts were served as a side dish. Today, this Christmas tradition is reviving in many families. Only the side dishes vary greatly today - but many Hamburgers remain loyal to the carp.

Flying Santa Claus above the town hall square

Where can you find something like that? Above the historic Christmas market on the town hall square, Santa Claus flies in a sleigh with his reindeer over the heads of many astonished visitors. For more than 20 years now, "ho ho ho" has echoed over the Christmas market three times a day. Then all eyes turn to the sky, where Santa Claus is already waiting for the visitors.

Fliegender Weihnachtsmann Hamburg
© Claudius Schulze

Rambo, the Santa In the sledge over the Rathausplatz

For 17 years, a sparkling sleigh has been whizzing above the visitors on the Rathausplatz Christmas market. Inside, the christmas-crazy tightrope walker Rambo Bügler, wearing a fire-proof costume. Our author Lena Frommeyer had a look behind the scenes of this Hamburg tradition.

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Don't wash it!

Finally, a little smile. If you live in Hamburg, you should get ready to do the hard work before the holidays. Because between the holidays - more precisely from December 25 to January 6 - people in Hamburg don't like to wash their laundry. This, admittedly rather bizarre, tradition goes back to an old superstition, according to which the white laundry on the line is reminiscent of a shroud, which should bring bad luck when seen. Maybe we'll just try that out this year, too.


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Christmas along the Elbe River
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Crazy Christmas Christmas is so crazy in Hamburg

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Christmas is so crazy in Hamburg

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