‘Christmas Academy’ teaches Germans yule rules

Parents and children in the southwest German city of Trier are taking part in a “Christmas Academy” to perfect their skills at singing carols, reading aloud and making a good impression at the yuletide feast.

'Christmas Academy' teaches Germans yule rules
Children learning their manners at Christmas Academy. Photo: DPA

This holiday season the city’s Volkshochschule, or community education centre, is offering Germany’s only workshops on how to properly celebrate Christmas. Ten courses during Advent with titles such as “Children’s Etiquette at the Banquet Table,” “Reading Stories Aloud For Parents,” and “Christmas Carol School,” are helping families bone up on their holiday basics ahead of the big day.

While children are seated at a restaurant with business coach Heike Falkenstein learning to hold their cutlery like little ladies and gentlemen, their parents watch reading instructor Thomas Vatheuer teach proper annunciation with a cork in his mouth.

“When one succeeds at an exciting reading of a nice story, one does something good for the whole family,” he said. “The most common mistake is the tempo – they must read more slowly.”

Father Peter Span learned that he and his children should be sitting up while reading aloud during the course.

“Now I know why we almost always fall asleep while reading aloud,” the 44-year-old said.

Meanwhile the children at the restaurant are treated to a three-course meal, throughout which they receive instructions on how to wipe their mouths, hold glasses, and sit up straight.

“I want to teach them that good behaviour, when one masters it, can also be fun,” Falkenstein said.

The school’s director said he hoped to reinvigorate a sense of Christmas tradition with the workshops.

“It’s a fact that there is less togetherness of Christmas,” he said, adding that singing and eating together is a chance to bring families together. “And we want to bring children and youths away from their game consoles and computers.”

At the Christmas song course children learn more than just first verses of favourite tunes like “O Tannenbaum!”, instructor Anna-Maria Goerres-Caspers said. “Then they can teach their parents,” she added.

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