Christmas in East Germany: 10 Surprising Facts

Christmas is almost upon us. More than almost any other holiday, Christmas is steeped in tradition and with much-loved exports such as advent calendars, Christmas trees, Christmas markets and Nuremberg gingerbread, Germany has contributed its fair share. While the holiday’s original meaning as the birthday of Jesus Christ is still present for many people, the Marxist-Leninist ideology that was the bedrock of the socialist regime in the GDR did not accept faith-based world views. However, rather than abolishing Christian traditions altogether, they were frequently re-interpreted in line with the tenets of historical materialism. We collected ten facts that made Christmas special in socialist East Germany.
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4 East German Photographers Whose Names You Should Know

The leading East German compact system cameras Praktica and Pentacon were manufactured by a state-owned enterprise in Dresden’s Niedersedlitz district, cementing the Saxonian city’s reputation as a cradle of innovation in East German photography and camera technology.
Many photographers have used these cameras to record life in the former GDR before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some of these images are now on display as part of an exhibition at the Schloss Biesdorf Arts Centre in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Read on to find out more about four of the most prominent among the 22 photographers featured in the exhibition, which is titled ‘Blick Verschiebung’ (‘Shift in Perspective’) and runs until 8 April 2018.

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Christmas Markets around Strausberger Platz – Past and Present

A Long Tradition of Christmas Markets in Berlin

Christmas markets are an annual winter-season highlight in Germany, every bit as popular with tourists as they are with locals. In many places, the tradition goes back centuries – including Berlin, where the earliest Christmas market-type event recorded in the local annals took place around 1530 on the Fischerinsel. During the 19th century, the annual market spread first to the nearby Schlossplatz, and subsequently also to Arkonaplatz and the Lustgarten, where Christmas markets were held almost until the end of World War II. After Berlin was divided into four sectors by the Allied Powers, Christmas market traditions developed independently of each other in the Eastern and Western parts of the city. These markets were quite different in tone and atmosphere – winter wonderland in the West, fairground fun in the East.


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