Tonight we are putting our shoes out in anticipation of a visit from Knecht Ruprecht. He is a happy, little, german elf that visits on December 5th and fills all the shoes left out with goodies! My (Eric's) maternal grandparents are german and did not immigrate to America until after WWII, so our german heritage has always been prevelent in our family. Usually, Knecht Ruprecht leaves some candy, a small toy and a Christmas ornament in our empty shoes that we put out before bed. When we wake up in the morning our shoes are full of great stuff. The American-Germans in our family sometimes refer to this event as "shoe day" and to the elf as "Connector Rupert". Among other things, we all have an inherent love of meats in a tube, like salami, knackwurst (kuh-knock-vurst) and liverwurst.
On Christmas Eve, after church, we all go to Oma and Opa's (grandma and grandpa's) house and eat knackwurst, pickled things, and potato salad for dinner. After dinner we usually open gifts and get our buntenteller. A buntenteller is a festive holiday tray full of traditional German cookies and candies. Every child gets their own, every unmarried person gets their own, and married couples have to share.
Other holiday traditions we have are advent calendars for the kids. We never had the ones with chocolate, just a picture a day for the 24 days before Christmas. The 24th one was always Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. We also light an advent candle on the four Sundays before Christmas and get together with family to eat and read the Christmas story together. Janell and I also throw in the last chapter of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" when it is our turn to host advent.
LIVING WITH A GERMAN BUILDS CHARACTER!