8 Traditional German Christmas Decorations to Add Holiday Magic

You probably already have several of these beautiful holiday decorations in your home, but it's fun to add more.

Updated December 14, 2023


When it comes to the way we celebrate Christmas around the world, it's hard to imagine a country more influential than Germany. After all, the Christmas tree itself is a German custom, and it's just one of many traditional German Christmas decorations that add tons of magic to our holiday celebrations. If you don't already include these in your festivities, get ready to be inspired.

Christmas Tree With Candles


Anyone who has listened "O Tannenbaum" knows about the German origin of the Christmas tree. The first Christmas tree ever recorded was in Germany in 1605. For a traditional German take on the tree, some families still use candles to light it.

Quick Tip

For most of us, real candles are a bit outside our comfort zone when it comes to holiday hazards. You can get a similar look with bubble lights or candle-shaped Christmas lights for your tree.

Christmas Ornaments


Since the tradition of the Christmas tree is German, it should come as no surpise that ornaments are too. The first Christmas trees were decorated with apples, but not everyone could afford them. False apples or blown glass ornaments came to represent the classic red fruit. Now they come in all different shapes and colors.

Fast Fact

What about that traditional German pickle ornament you hear about? Turns out it might not really be a German tradition. Instead, it's more likely an American interpretation.

Branches of Fruit Trees in Water


When you think about what decorations you would see in Germany, the first thing that comes to mind is the Christmas tree. But it's not all about the spruce. Germans actually bring in a different kind of tree as part of their holiday decorations, too. It's customary to cut branches from fruit trees and place them in water as a decoration early in December. By Christmas, they may have bloomed!

Candle Carousel or Pyramid


One of my family favorite Christmas decorations has German roots. The candle carousel or pyramid is a German holiday decoration that's totally interactive and fun. The wooden carousel has windmill-style blades at the top and candles at the base. When you light the candles, the warm air rising from them turns the carousel.

Moravian Star


If you've ever seen those gorgeous three-dimensional hanging stars, you've seen another beautiful German contribution to Christmas. The Moravian star started as a geometry demonstration in a boarding school in Germany, and it quickly became a part of the holidays. Today, you may see them hanging from front porches or decorating Christmas trees as ornaments.



An Advent calendar that counts down the days until Christmas is a fixture in lots of homes, including mine (my kids argue over who gets to open it each day). This, too, is a German tradition (the Advent calendar, not fighting about it). Called the adventskalender, they date back to at least 1851 in Germany.

Advent Wreath


Speaking of celebrating Advent, the Advent wreath is actually a much older German tradition that many families still use today. It's an evergreen wreath that people often place on the dining room table, and it has four or more candles. Families light the candles to mark each of the Sundays in the Advent season.

Wooden Nutcrackers


If you've seen The Nutcracker ballet, you know all about how nutcrackers are associated with Christmas. But they actually started as toys and then Christmas decorations in Germany. The first wooden nutcrackers probably date back to the late 17th century.

Add More Traditional German Christmas Decorations to Your Collection


So many of our classic holiday customs come from Germany, and you probably already have a lot of traditional German Christmas decorations in your home. Adding more is fun, too, though. I'm planning to pick up a Moravian star to hang over my dining room table this year.

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8 Traditional German Christmas Decorations to Add Holiday Magic