Germany's Protestant Church complained Thursday of the "merciless commercialisation" of Christmas and the early opening of festive markets in some cities.
"What remains of the rhythm of life, the rhythm of the liturgical year, when everything is available all the time and thus arbitrary?" said a spokeswoman of the Evangelical Church in Germany.
"The merciless commercialisation of Advent and Christmas spells a contrary message to what the Bible tells us."
She said the four-week Advent period starting December 2 "should be experienced for its true meaning, as the time of anticipation of Christmas, of the coming of God".
Germany has a long tradition of Christmas markets that sell mulled wine, sweets, handicrafts, Christmas decorations and other presents.
Most German cities, among them Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne and Luebeck, will open their Christmas markets on November 26.
Others opened on Thursday, including markets in Freiburg, Dortmund and Duesseldorf, while some have been operating since mid-November, such as in the city of Essen.
Essen's Catholic diocese made a similar complaint about the markets that draw hordes of shoppers into city centres.
"We don't want to be spoilsports," diocese spokesman Ulrich Lota told the DPA news agency.
But, he said, "it is important for us, as devout Christians, to point out ... that Christmas is not some year-end cultural celebration with lights but the festivity that marks the birth of Jesus."