Discover the winter wonderland together with the PIO Christmas animals.
What traces have they left behind?

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The festive dinner:
Christmas is known to be the celebration of love - and the way to someone's heart is through their stomach! Many people enjoy culinary delights this time of year. Dishes vary from traditional to extravagant: Germans prefer potato salad with sausage or the classic Christmas roast goose. For vegetarians, we recommend a Roquefort chard pâté. Raclette is a perfect dish to share. Guten Appetit!

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Advent time:
Advent, Advent, a little light glimmers: the last bit of the Christmas season begins on the first Sunday of Advent. This also marks the official start of the new church year. To make the waiting for our Christmas presents more enjoyable, we have the Advent calendar: handmade or bought from a store, with chocolates or other little gifts. There are, of course, many varieties: some electronic, some perfumed, some even with muesli instead of chocolate. The "Pechkeks Anti-Advent Calender" is perfect for those with dark humour, promising a gruesome Christmas.

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Wish lists:
We all used to write them when we were young children. It's still a widespread tradition that gets children excited weeks before the holiday. Thinking and writing about their wishes make a very special moment for the little ones. In many countries around the world, there are established Christmas post offices receiving wish lists and letters to Santa Claus. The post office in Himmelpfort, north of Berlin, answers 200,000 letters a year.

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Weihnachtsfrieden (Christmas peace):
No need to worry about fines from mid-December to the beginning of January. The Christmas peace is the unofficial name for the time around the Christmas holidays, when authorities in Germany avoid issuing administrative acts that would burden recipients. This includes parking fines or additional demands from the tax office. Of course once Weihnachtsfrieden is over, they get back on track.

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Work or vacation:
For many people, Christmas is also the time to plan next year's vacation. What do you think? Do you prefer to work until Christmas Eve? Or will you be already relaxing in the Caribbean or on a ski slope? Some people can and others have to take time off - when companies close for the holidays. Others receive extra payments or more paid time off when working around this time. Since working around Christmas and New Year's Eve raises many questions, it is worth taking a closer look at the legal framework.

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Doing good:
Christmas is also about charity. The willingness to donate goes up in the weeks around Christmas. In 2017, Germans donated a total of 5.2 billion euros - the third-highest recorded figure since 2005. The trend is now towards crowdfunding and online donation portals. The most important thing for donors is how much of the donation amount goes directly to the beneficiaries. Companies are also increasingly using "wish trees" to collect gifts for the needy around Christmas. Think about it: who could you do something good for?

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Gifts:
Nowadays the choice of gifts is probably bigger than ever. Some people ponder all year round to choose presents for their loved ones. Others prefer to shop at the last minute - and still have fun with it! The most popular gifts are vouchers, money, books and sweets. The gift season is starts with retail events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On average, Germans spend 470 euros per Christmas gift – some buy, others craft gifts. What do you do?

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Travel time:
Of course the Christmas season is a great occasion for travel, whether you want to escape the craziness or to enjoy it. Those who want to spend Christmas at home with their families might also have to travel. Students who study far from home or expats use this opportunity to visit their families. Be prepared for delays when travelling by train or car. According to ADAC, the highest traffic jam risk is on the 21st of December!

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Santa Claus:
A lot has already been said about Santa Claus - and after all, we have our own PIO Christmas animals joining us for Christmas. So not much to say, except that Santa Claus is an old symbol that can be found in various cultures. He exists in different forms and designations all over the world. How many do you know?

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White Christmas:
Officially, winter in the northern hemisphere begins only a few days before Christmas Eve. Every year we dream of a White Christmas, but it’s not that easy. The German cities with most white Christmases are Munich, Berlin and Leipzig. From 1950 to 2010, Munich had snow during Christmas 28 times - almost every second year – Berlin 23 times and Leipzig 21 times. By the way, the assumption that there used to be more White Christmases is wrong.

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Christmas Decoration:
So many questions to answer on Christmas decoration: Should we use a lot? Do we like it colourful or simple? When do we decorate? And where did we put last year's decorations? Christmas decorations are purely a matter of taste - which everyone has to clarify with themselves (and with their partner). In Germany, decorations are on from the first Advent until the Day of the Three Kings (6th of January). By the way, there is no legally prescribed period for Christmas decorations. So let them shine as long as you want!

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Baking:
"In the Christmas bakery there are many delicacies!" Many are especially looking forward to a sweet Christmas. Cookies and pastries are ideal for Christmas hours together, as gifts and even as Christmas tree decorations. At no other time of the year is the sweet stuff so popular - whether bought or homemade. The classics are not to be forgotten. A simple basic recipe for short pastry biscuits comes in "3...2...1" - Make a smooth dough from 300g flour, 200g butter, 100g sugar, an egg and a pinch of salt. Cut them out and put them in the oven. Yummy!

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Christmas markets:
Germany is at the top of the Christmas market league: in 2015 there were 270 million visitors at 34 large and 2,200 small Christmas markets! That's a lot, especially compared to other countries: France (78 million), Austria (21 million) and Switzerland (8.2 million). Around 70 percent of people in Germany plan to visit the Christmas market. They expect a Christmas mood, fairy lights and Christmas trees. Crazy: although many people see markets as overcrowded and overpriced, they cannot imagine the Christmas season without them.

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Christkind:
While in northern and eastern Germany Santa Claus traditionally brings the presents, the rest of the German-speaking world has someone else for the job. From Münster to the Ruhr area to the Alps, Christkind reliably brings miracles to families. Mothers like to tell children that they "have just seen it fly" when presents appear. In the mountains of Switzerland there are places that are so difficult to reach there’s need for more help: "Weihnachtskindli".

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Christmas tales:
Do you remember the protagonist's first name?

"Come in!" exclaimed the Ghost. "Come in! and know me better, man!"
Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and though its eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. "Look upon me!"



All explored already?
Then share our PIO winter world with your friends!


You either want to leave traces? We are looking forward to talk to you