Tag Archives: Christmas in California

Silent Night…



… was definitely not the motto on Christmas at our house growing up (and still isn’t).  The celebrations of Jesus’ birthday usually consisted of singing, playing games, blasting Christmas music, and indulging in good food.  The family traditions continue to this day, but the family has expanded quite a bit since my childhood days.

In Germany, the gift exchange traditionally happens on December 24, Christmas Eve.  I can still remember when I was a younger kid how excited I was on this day.  My anticipation rose to the max when the glass door leading to our living room was covered with linen so that I was unable to see when Santa would arrive to drop off the presents.  Nowadays, I couldn’t care less about material gifts, but I am sure we all remember how that was the highlight when we were little.

The “usual” Christmas Eve for my family looked like this: During the day, we would listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, play games, prepare part of the food for dinner, and just relax.  In the younger stages of my life, my grandmas were present with us during the Holidays as well.

At three p.m., we attended the mass at our local church.  I grew up in a pretty small suburban town of Dusseldorf, which means that when you went to mass on Christmas Eve, you basically knew everybody attending. So once the service was over, my parents were chatting with neighbors, friends, and acquaintances before we headed back home. At that time, my excitement was almost unbearable, and it seemed like hours until we would finally be back at the house.

But before it was time for the gift exchange, we would all gather around the tree and sing Christmas songs.  I know this sounds cheesy, but my father took a lot of pride in establishing this tradition. Later on, when I was a teenager, I was playing the piano while everybody else was singing (probably for the best since I have a terrible singing voice).

Once we finished the last tune, it was present time. After every gift had been unwrapped and inspected, it was time for what is now, being an adult, my favorite part: food. The traditional family dinner consisted of meat fondue with plenty of side dishes.  Dinner on Christmas Eve usually lasted for hours and included lots of booze (not for the kids, of course) and laughter.

Once the table was cleaned up, it was time for game night. Card games, board games, activity games…You name it, we did it. Game night was accompanied by more booze and candy.  Believe it or not, there was always, always room for candy in my family, even after a multiple-hour dinner. Our Christmas Eve agenda (minus the gift exchange and church visit) usually continued throughout December 25 and 26, which are both Holidays in Germany.

When I moved out to Huntington Beach, I traveled back to Europe for Christmas during the first couple years.  I haven’t been to Germany now for two years, but we are keeping the Christmas tradition alive over here in California, including the good food, drinks, games, and laughter.  Except for this year, we are having one sweet addition: a two-month-old baby girl.  And with that, our Christmas night will definitely be anything but silent.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate! Happy Holidays!

Image: pixabay.com

Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.




It Ain’t Christmas Season Without a “Christkindl” Market


With the second Sunday of Advent upon us the holiday season is in full swing. What about a ‘Christkindlmarkt’ that many of us expats remember so fondly?  In Austria, Germany,  Switzerland and actually many other countries in Europe, Christkindl Markets or Christmas Markets are a tradition not to be missed during the Christmas season. Very often these markets start on the first weekend of Advent.

What about Christmas Markets in California? You might be surprised, but a few do exist.  Below please find a compilation of them. Pay them a visit and enjoy breathing in the spirit of Christmas…!

Northern California

Sacramento Turn Verein -Christkindlmarket

DECEMBER 5 + 6, Saturday & Sunday – Join the Sacramento Turn Verein at the 17th annual Christkindlmarkt and view the Turn Verein decorated for the Holiday Season on Saturday December 5th & Sunday December 6th. Enjoy Christmas Music, Christmas market, and delightful Holiday Season food and drink. Even catch the Alpentänzer Schuhplattler with the Alpentanzkapelle performing on Saturday at 2pm.
St. Nicholas, Glühwein, German Food, hot cider, roasted almonds, and holiday booths galore is waiting for you.
Bring a “Coat for Kids” to get in free!

Time:                                                                                                                        Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location:                                                                                                          Sacramento Turn Verein – Turner Hall
3349 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816


Mountain View – German Holiday Market “Weihnachtsmarkt”

DECEMBER 12, Saturday – German Holiday Market “Weihnachtsmarkt” in Downtown Mountain View
Join the family fun at the Mountain View’s Civic Center Plaza, which will transform into a bustling holiday market, where various vendors will be offering traditional foods, holiday accessories, arts and crafts, decorations, and much more.

Time: from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: Civic Center Plaza
500 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94043
Contact: GISSV Office 650-254-0748
Host: German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV)


Cambria Christmas Market

November 27-December-23rd – The Cambria Christmas Market is open from 5 pm – 9 pm at Cambria Pines Lodge, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

It’s an Outdoor Market in the German American Tradition. Food, drink, music and gifts.Vendors feature locally made items. Ornaments, toys, jewelry, woolen goods, hand blown glass, candles and more! There is nightly entertainment.
For more information contact: 800-966-6490

Admission prices range from $3-$10 depending on the night. Kids 5 and under are always free. Please view our calendar of events for pricing on our   Web site: http://www.cambriachristmasmarket.com


Southern California

Alpine Village Christmas Faire in Torrance

DECEMBER 5-6, 12-13, & 19-20 – Alpine Village Christmas Faire is a fun-packed holiday festival that will take place over the first three weekends in December. It’s inspired by the traditional outdoor markets that can be found across Germany this time of year! Also here you will find plenty of free or inexpensive activities that the whole family can enjoy.

The market is open form 4:00pm-8:00pm and the General Admission is Free. An “All access pass” (kids 12&under only) is: $5
Santa Photo only (all ages): $2

Location: Alpine Village at 833 W Torrance Blvd. Torrance, CA 90502         Parking is Free

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:                                                                       Entry into the Christmas Faire
Live music and snowfall in front the Market
Second music area in the Village
Meet and greet the Snow Queens
Access to all shopping areas

High resolution digital photos with Santa Claus emailed after event
NEW! Indoor Snow Zone with real, ice-cold snow
Kids Craft area with ornament and stocking decorations
Train ride around village (ticket covers includes accompanying adults/family)


Old World German Christmas Market

December 6th, 13th & 20th from 11am – 4pm – Enjoy a German Christmas Market with German Food, Bratwurst, Arts & Crafts, Handmade Gifts, Gluehwein and Christmas Cookies at Old World Huntington Beach. In addition the popular food truck The Curry Wurst Truck will take care of some food specialties, and of course the Old World Restaurant.

Activities: Take Photos with Santa Claus, Get Face Painting and craft a Christmas ornament for the Christmas tree.

Location: 7561 Center Ave. #49, Huntington Beach, CA 92647


Image: ©“ChristmasMarketJena” by ReneS at flickr – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons –


Frohe Weihnacht – Merry Christmas

The tradition of Christmas Eve in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Many countries around the world celebrate Christmas in different ways and on different days. In Germany, Austria and the German part of Switzerland it is custom to celebrate Christmas on the evening of December 24th, and many families end the holy night with the midnight mass at local churches. In contrary to the American Christmas Eve parties the celebration is one mostly with only the immediate family. The days of the 25th and 26th are the days to visit other relatives and close friends and celebrate with them as well.

December 24th is also often the day when the Christmas tree is festively decorated together with the whole family and some pay a last visit to the Christkindel markets, which close that afternoon until next year’s Christmas season.

Who will bring the presents to the children in Germany? Well, this depends if one is from the south or the north. The children in the north of Germany traditionally have the “Weihnachtsmann” similar to Father Christmas bring the gifts in the evening, whereas in the
south of Germany, and also in Austria, children are waiting for the “Christkind” (Christ Child) to bring them presents.

With this CaliforniaGermans wishes you all a wonderful Merry Christmas, Fröhliche Weihnachten, and a prosperous and happy New Year!

If you would like to know where you can find a German Christmas Eve church service in your neighborhood, please follow the link to the German Consulate.

Happy Holidays!

Cornelia & CaliforniaGermans