Christmas Day in Luxembourg is a public holiday each year. However, the Christmas season begins with Advent, around three weeks ahead of the actual day, with candles on “advent wreaths” being lit gradually in the lead up to Christmas.
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Most of Luxembourg’s population is Roman Catholic, and many will attend a mass either on the Eve or on Christmas Day. The midnight mass on Christmas Eve is especially traditional and a way to welcome Christmas Day from the very moment it begins.
However, Christmas in Luxembourg is also about family reunions with a good deal of family feasting. Traditionally, black pudding, mashed potatoes, and applesauce were eaten on Christmas Eve. Today, roast turkey, fish and other seafood, “potato fritters,” eggnog, mulled wines, and sweets such as Stollen.
On 6 December comes Saint Nicholas Day, and this is when “Santa Claus” fills plates with candies, sweets, and small gifts. For the week preceding 6 December, he also fills kids’ slippers with presents each night. Gifts for Christmas Eve are not brought by Santa but by Baby Jesus and left under the Christmas tree to be opened on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
After Christmas is over, during the first week of January, boy and girl scouts often go about gathering used Christmas trees to burn in gigantic bonfire events called “Buergbrennen.”
Should you find yourself in Luxembourg the Christmas season, here are some ideas on what to do:
- Attend midnight services at the imposing but beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City. Services are held there every year on Christmas Eve. You may also wish to attend midnight mass at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Maurice and Saint Maure in the town of Clervaux. The services there have been aired on TV of late, so you can watch them even if you can’t attend them.
- Tour the Christmas Market in Luxembourg City. Constitution Place and other famous sections of the city are transformed into a full-fledged Christmas playground though much of December. You will see wooden stalls offering all manner of goods, including toys, Christmas decorations, delectable sausages, potato pancakes, and hot mulled wine.
- Also in Luxembourg City, attend other events going on in December, including parades, concerts, exhibits, and more. The whole series of events, including the market, is referred to collectively as the “Winterlights Festival.”
- Outside of the main city, you will find there are numerous nativity plays in the smaller villages and towns. These are municipal events, and children are usually the actors. Christmas concerts are also usually held in the villages, and there is often a Christmas tree auction after the concert, with all the tree money going to charity.