A German tradition is: on Christmas, all children have to go to bed for approximately like two hours—uh, they have to take a nap from about 4 to 6 pm, and then they all get dressed up and stand outside of the door to the living room where, um…yeah, all the kids are standing outside… and only when the parents sing a specific song are the kids allowed to go inside, and um… every kid has to play a musical instrument or sing or dance or something, and only when everyone is done are you allowed to go in and open your presents.
This German tradition differs greatly from the American tradition, which seems now to be based solely on the giving and reception of gifts. The whole day, in my opinion, has been reduced to economics: spending money, stimulating the economy, partaking in the American consumerism that dominates the culture. Lost are the religious rituals that accompany the celebration of Christmas (for the most part). Rather, Christmas has achieved a more secular significance.
Christmas in my family, like in many American families, has been reduced to gift giving and receiving. Weeks in advance my siblings publish lists of material things that they want and where these items can be acquired with the most ease. As my family is not terribly religious, and as many others aren’t either, what else would Christmas signify? How do you acknowledge and celebrate a day whose significance is insignificant to you? Thus, the progression from religion to retail makes sense.
I find it interesting and quite cool that Germans incorporate cultural songs and dances into their celebration of Christmas. Sophia admits that most Germans are not very religious, so the replacement of the standard Christian hymns and prayers and affirmations by pieces of German culture feels more natural for them and adds a unique twist to the celebration.