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CHRISTMAS

Santa’s helpers await Christmas wish lists

Christmas may still be a way off, but German children are already getting in the spirit, sending letters to Baby Jesus and regional versions of Father Christmas - and his helpers are busy replying - often in English.

Santa's helpers await Christmas wish lists
Photo: DPA

More than 3,000 have already arrived in the Christmas sorting office in Himmelstadt, Bavaria. These ones are addressed the Christkind, the infant Jesus who traditionally brings gifts to children in southern Germany on 24 December.

That is just the beginning, said Rosemarie Schotte, who has run the Himmelstadt office for almost 20 years. “By the end of the season we’re sure to have more than 80,000 again,” she said.

Each one gets a reply in an envelope bearing a special stamp and of course the postmark showing where it was sent from – and, Schotte told The Local, if the letters are in English, they’ll receive a reply in English.

Elsewhere in Germany, requests are made to instead to Father Christmas – the Weihnachtsmann – or to St Nicholas, who delivers his gifts on 6 December.

Seven special Christmas post offices receive the letters – whose numbers just keep growing.

“Despite texting, Facebook and Twitter, there are more every year. That’s the trend we’re recording. It’s astonishing,” said post office spokesman Alexander Böhm.

Most children send their Christmas wish lists. Few seem to beat about the bush in stating their preferences. “The kids are always bang up to date, especially as far as toys are concerned. Whatever’s just come on the market often ends up on the lists,” noted Schotte.

Others write with more personal problems such as requests for help, for sick relatives or from irritating siblings. These too receive individual replies.

“If the children have made a really special effort, then we write a few extra lines,” said Schotte.

Many of the elves are volunteers; the postage and organisational costs are met by Deutsche Post.

“It’s simply a beautiful thing,” said Böhm.

Though for the sake of frazzled parents up and down the land, let’s just hope that Santa doesn’t dish out too many rash promises amidst all the festive good-will.

Children hoping to boost their hauls should write to the following addresses, making sure that their own details are legible. Most will deal with English letters and reply in English.

HIMMELPFORT (Brandenburg) An den Weihnachtsmann, Weihnachtspostfiliale 16798 Himmelpfort.

HIMMELSTADT (Bavaria) An das Christkind, 97267 Himmelstadt

HIMMELPFORTEN (Lower Saxony) An das Christkind / An den Weihnachtsmann, 21709 Himmelpforten

ST NIKOLAUS (Saarland) An den Nikolaus, 66351 Großrosseln-St. Nikolaus

ENGELSKIRCHEN (North Rhine-Westphalia) An das Christkind, 51777 Engelskirchen

HIMMELSTHÜR (Lower Saxony) An den Weihnachtsmann, Himmelsthür, 31117 Hildesheim

NIKOLAUSDORF (Lower Saxony) An den Nikolaus, Nikolausdorf, 49681 Garrel

DPA/The Local/pmw

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CHRISTMAS

German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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