Biggest German Christmas market opens
30 November 2007, Nuremberg - Stallholders were putting the finishing touches Friday to one of Germany's biggest annual Christmas markets, in the southern city of Nuremberg, with sales of mulled wine, gingerbread and handcrafts set to begin at nightfall.
30 November 2007
Nuremberg - Stallholders were putting the finishing touches Friday to one of Germany's biggest annual Christmas markets, in the southern city of Nuremberg, with sales of mulled wine, gingerbread and handcrafts set to begin at nightfall.
Rebekka Volland, 16, a Nuremberg schoolgirl, is to wear white robes and play the part of the Infant Jesus Christ, paying daily visits to the market until December 24 to be photographed alongside excited children.
Volland's "term of office" begins when she comes out onto the outside balcony of a city church overlooking the marketplace, the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady, and recites a verse on Friday evening.
In the minds of many German traditionalists, an angel-like girl playing the part of Jesus is a feature of a "true" German Christmas.
Germans often complain that the "fake" US Christmas and its imaginary bringer of gifts, Santa Claus, has usurped centuries-old German customs. Where Volland walks, Santa is not welcome.
Some 2 million visitors, many from far beyond Germany's borders, are expected to enjoy mugs of hot, spiced wine, a beverage that makes visitors instantly tipsy as they listen to tinkling Christmas music.
Visitors can also stroll among the 180 stalls which sell hand-made Christmas decorations and gifts and buy German-style gingerbread, which provides one of the characteristic odours of the market.
The magic of the event captivates even cynics, and offers an antidote to the drizzle or snow of December.
Despite being named after Christmas, the markets actually take place in a Christian season known as Advent ending at Christmas.
Christmas markets are so popular that dozens of other German cities have set up copies in recent decades, but Nuremberg, Germany's centre of toymaking, has a solid tradition to go on, dating back to 1628.
Although Nuremberg is worth seeing in the summer, city hoteliers rent more rooms in chilly December than in any other month.
The event is not Germany's oldest Christmas market. The city of Dresden said its annual market, which began Wednesday, is taking place this year for the 573th time. Dresden forecast it would beat out Nuremberg this year with 2.5 million visitors.
Subject: German news