With the first days of advent came the snow in Germany and even Columbia had a few shy flakes of that wonderfully soft and sparkly stuff the other day. I already had a few Glühweins this year with friends and my roommates made the first Christmas cookies of the year. The stores have been playing Christmas music for a few weeks already and everybody seems to get into the mood for the holidays. What’s remarkable though is that there really isn’t that much difference between Christmas in the US and modern Christmas in Germany. The traditional side of Christmas celebrations are a completely different story and sure enough there are distinctive differences and are still valid today. Germans get their presents on Christmas Eve under a real tree and not on the 25th under a plastic one, Americans usually don’t go to Christmas markets like they can be found in every town in Germany, and in Germany nobody would be offended when people wish you a Merry Christmas. But, really, the idea is the same.
When you listen to Christmas music on the radio, the small differences disappear completely – Christmas music in Germany and the US does not differ at all (If you subtract American country Christmas songs, that is). And this made me think. As far as I am aware, Germans don’t have many christmassy pop songs. Most of the Christmas music played on the radio is the same as on American radio stations, meaning it’s American Christmas music. You hear Bing Cosby and Frank Sinatra, Jingle Bells and Jingle Bells Rock, The Christmas Song and well, unavoidably, you hear Wham! with Last Christmas. (see video 3) This song is a Christmas “Evergreen,” as German’s would say. The song hits number one every year and is a sure indicator of Christmas. More reliable than snow, more reliable than Christmas sales, and probably more reliable than Santa Claus.
Since the German music charts are usually a mere representation of the American or British charts spiced up with a German song every once on a while, this only seems consistent. But German Christmas songs are well-known and popular all over the world – everybody has at least heard of Stille Nacht/ Silent Night (though originated in Austria) and Oh Tannenbaum/ O Christmastree. The classical and traditional songs, however, are more and more being pushed aside by pop music. Sure enough, there are some German pop Christmas songs but it never is anything new and it certainly cannot be called German because these are songs of the like of Last Christmas. Over the last years, I have only found two Christmas albums by German artists that I enjoyed and that also (to some extent represent) German Christmas traditions. The albums are “Wir warten auf’s Christkind” by Die Roten Rosen (see video 2) and Winterwunderwelt (a translation of winter wonderland) by Götz Alsmann (see video 1).
Of course, this only reflects my personal opinion so I’d be very interested in your opinion. Do you know any modern German Christmas songs that you like?