Berlin shines in a festive blaze of lights every year in the period before Christmas. There are about 60 Christmas markets to wander round and enjoy. On grand boulevards and squares and also in small side streets and in museums, they'll surprise you with their magic, charm and Christmassy delicacies. Whether thought provoking and fairytale or trendy and urban - there's something for everyone here.

In German homes, the Christkind traditionally brings presents to children on Christmas Eve. The departure is announced with the ringing of a small bell, followed by the stampeding feet of children as they rush to see what presents were left for them.

Despite Germany's wealth of traditions, the magic of North America's Santa Claus has started to creep into German culture over the last few years despite arguments that Santa Claus represents nothing but rampant consumerism, and to some, Coca Cola.

In fact, Santa Claus, the Christkind, and St. Nikolaus are sometimes all rolled up into one fun-loving Christmas package. A Spiegel article from last year states that children in Germany "have been sending letters to Santa Claus for decades," but also acknowledges that many of these letters are for the Christkind.

So take your pick. Celebrate the season with St. Nikolaus, the Christkind, Santa Claus, or all three. However you enjoy the holiday season, make it a great one.


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