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December 2007

Oh Tannenbaum

Just listen carefully, and all of a sudden you’ll hear it everywhere: From meditative humming to gleeful singing, German children have just one tune on their lips during Advent season, “Oh Tannenbaum.” The traditional German Christmas song hails the Tannenbaum (fir tree), the beautiful needles of which last through winter to decorate homes on Christmas. The song was composed in the 19th century as a tragic love song, contrasting the changeless needles of the fir tree to an unfaithful lover. It was only some decades later that a teacher from Leipzig adapted the lyrics, paying tribute to a new bourgeois fashion of using trees as parlor décor. That custom and those lyrics remain an undisputable part of the Christmas spirit, especially in Germany, where real candle flames are still common. Street vendors sell trees from the beginning of December through the morning of the 24th. Attractive offers to select and cut one’s own tree are available at or by visiting one of Munich’s tree nurseries (Baumschule). Addresses are listed at The most inexpensive trees, though, are provided by do-it-yourself stores, such as Toom, Praktiker and OBI.
Once you’ve chosen your own Tannenbaum, keep some transport rules in mind. The twigs may not cover any car sign, and if the trunk hangs more than one meter out of the back of the car, a red pennant or cloth must be clearly attached as a warning sign.
Traditionally, Christmas trees are taken down on January 6 (Epiphany). They can be chopped up and disposed in the brown bio trash bins, or they can be brought to one of Munich’s recycling sites (Wertstoffhof). For addresses and opening hours, see Whichever means of disposal you choose, all decoration should be removed from the Tannenbaum. <<<

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