German Advent word of the day: Der Adventskranz

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Kathrin Thams - [email protected]
German Advent word of the day: Der Adventskranz
Photo: DPA

This German tradition is like a countdown (or count up) to Christmas. Light 1-2-3 then 4 and Christmas is at your door.


The “Adventskranz” is one of the classic German Christmas traditions that heightens your Christmas spirit. After reading this article you might want to join in on the festive occasion as well.

What does it mean?

The first candle lit on the "Adventskranz" in Düsseldorf, Photo: DPA

The “Adventskranz” is an advent wreath made out of fir sprigs with four, usually red, candles.

It either hangs from the ceiling or sits on the table.

And often the wreaths are decorated with bows or other festive decorations.

What is the history behind the “Adventskranz”?

Pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) invented the “Adventskranz” for the children in the Diaconal educational institution he worked at.

The children could not wait for Christmas to come, and therefore would constantly ask him how many more days until the Big Day.

In order to make this waiting time more bearable for them he created the Advent wreath that guided the children to Christmas.

It began as a wooden wreath only decorated with fir sprigs.

And originally, it had 19 small candles and four large ones placed on top of it. The large ones would only be lit on Advent Sunday.

Apart from this, the advent wreath is also symbolic for the Christian anticipation for Christmas.

What role does it play in Germany?

The four candles on the wreath symbolize the four advent Sundays before Christmas.

On the first Advent Sunday, which was December 1st this year, you light the first candle. On the following Sunday you light the next candle, until all candles are burning on the last Sunday before Christmas.

However, some people also light all of their candles at once, because it gives more light. This way, the only light needed in the room is given by the advent wreath.

Many families sit by their advent wreaths, and enjoy Christmas sweets and some even sing festive songs.


“Dein Adventskranz sieht mal wieder wunderschön aus.” “Ich habe ja auch drei Stunden dran gesessen!”

“Your advent wreath once again looks beautiful.” “I worked on it for three hours!”

“Ich wollte dieses Jahr den Adventskranz selber machen. Die gekauften sehen immer alle gleich aus.”

“This year I wanted to make the advent wreath myself. The bought ones always look the same.”

“Kannst du mir mal den Tennenzweig dort reichen? Dann ist der Adventskranz so gut wie fertig.”

“Can you hand me the fir sprig there? Then the advent wreath is basically done.”




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