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Food and Drink: Special Occasion Foods


German Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) are an iconic part of the Adventzeit (Advent period). Around the country, families and friends meet in the town square, where vendors sell tasty treats like Glühwein (warm mulled wine), Reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes served with apple sauce), and Lebkuchen (gingerbread).

The traditional meal on Christmas Eve is the Weihnachtskarpfen (Christmas carp), as historically Catholic churches forbade eating meat during the Advent season until Christmas day. On Christmas morning, it is tradition to take the carp bones and innards from the previous night’s Weihnachtskarpfen and bury them under the fruit trees in one’s garden to bring luck and a bountiful harvest in the next year. 

New Year’s

On New Year’s Eve, friends and family gather for Raclette. Each person grills the meats and vegetables of their choice on a small tabletop grill. These ingredients are then put in small trays and topped with smoked Raclette cheese. A festive beverage served both during the Christmas season and at New Year’s parties is the Feuerzangenbowle (literally “fire tongs punch”), a potent alcoholic drink where a sugar cone is set on fire and dripped into mulled wine.


In Germany, the Easter celebration begins on Thursday and ends on Sunday. On Gründonnerstag (Maundy Thursday), green dishes or soups are usually eaten, as the name means “green Thursday” in German. A fish meal, usually featuring herring or trout, is served on Karfreitag (Good Friday). And on Easter Sunday, lamb is traditionally served, as it represents humility and innocence. 


In September and October, Oktoberfest is celebrated in Munich. Doughy pretzels, roast chicken, sausages, and of course, steins of beer, are enjoyed by millions of visitors and locals every year. 

Seasonal Foods

Germans still eat quite seasonally, with menus reflecting the availability of fresh ingredients. In April, asparagus comes into season, marking the beginning of the short Spargelzeit (asparagus time) when it is not uncommon to eat thick stalks of white asparagus several times a week. June brings the beginning of Erdbeerzeit (strawberry time) when Germans eat their fill of fresh strawberries with cream and strawberry cake.

On the first day of school, schoolkids receive a Schultüte, a 3-foot (1 m) long conical container filled with chocolates, Marzipan candies, Gummibärchen (gummy bears), and school supplies.


No German wedding would be complete without Hochzeitssuppe (German wedding soup), a clear beef or chicken broth served with bone-marrow meatballs. This soup has its origins in village life when a large yet satisfying dish had to be prepared to serve hundreds of guests, many of whom had to bring their own dishes and silverware to the festivities.