The A to Z of German Christmas: K is for… Kekse

Raw cookies being placed on a baking tray
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Kekse and – as at this time of year they’re more commonly referred to – Plätzchen are general German words for cookies. At this time of year, however, the words take on a whole other meaning. Christmas cookies (Weihnachtskekse or Weihnachtsplätzchen) are all about Saturdays spent in a kitchen lightly dusted with flour and filled with the scent of warm spices; and about Sundays spent nibbling on the fruits of your labour whilst you light the next candle on your Advent wreath.

Everyone here has their favourite Christmas cookie recipe, from cranberry jam sandwiches to vanilla crescents. The Christmas cookie-baking options in Germany are seemingly endless, but you can find a handful of options listed in my 15 fabulously festive German Christmas cakes and cookies.

K is also for…

Kerzen: candles, mostly to be found in fiery, flickering form on an Advent wreath or a Christmas tree. Yes, really, they’re still putting naked flames on Christmas trees here – my in-laws still do it, despite the annual invasion of six small grandchildren.

Karousel: they’re at every Christmas market, a traditional old carousel with painted horses, Christmas music, and small children being dragged off screaming when it stops.

Krampus: on the night of 5 December, many children in Germany put out their boots for St Nicholas (Nikolaus), who will fill them with sweets and toys in the event that they’ve been good. The utterly terrifying Krampus, however, half-demon, half-goat, pops round to punish the bad. It turns out that in Germany, Advent isn’t entirely friendly and fun.