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In many areas of Germany the Christmas gifts are brought by Christkindl, an angelic messenger of the Christ Child. The name Christkindl translates to mean "Christ Child". Historically, Christkindl was introduced after the refor- mation by the prostestants who considered St. Nicholas to be too reminiscent of the Pope. Although Christkindl is genderless, the character is usually represesented by a fair haired young girl with a golden crown, golden wings, and a flowing white robe. The tinkling of bells announces the arrival of the Christkindl on Christmas Eve. In German households, the parlor is kept locked and guarded during the pre-Christmas season. The children are not allowed in this room until after supper on Christmas Eve, giving the Christkindl time to leave plates filled with sweets and small presents for each child, and larger presents under the tree. The festivities begin when the doors to the parlor are thrown open to reveal a brightly decorated Christmas tree lit up with white candles and surrounded by presents. Christmas carols are then sung, and in some homes the Christkindl re- mains to help pass out the presents.
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