Customer bah humbugs Nikolaus delivery man

A German delivery man who dressed up as Saint Nikolaus to make his rounds last week ended up having to take off his costume in front of police officers after a customer complained it was an affront to his religious freedom.

Customer bah humbugs Nikolaus delivery man
Keep your presents to yourself, Nikolaus. Photo: DPA

Detlev Groß told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) he had been dressing up for his deliveries on St Nikolaus Day around the town of Herne in North Rhine-Westphalia for years, and no-one had ever complained.

But this December 6th, his friendly "Ho ho ho" as he delivered his package was greeted with dismay rather than a grin.

The WAZ said DHL confirmed there had been a complaint that having St Nikolaus making deliveries was an affront to his religious freedom.

He called the police, who told Groß to take off the costume and continue his round in his DHL uniform instead.

Groß said: "I was so annoyed. We are big fans of our friendly package delivery service – the best in Herne – and infuriated by this case."

DHL spokesman Dieter Pietruck told the WAZ: "The delivery man was spoken to by a customer, but not threatened or hassled."

He said Groß had taken off the St Nikolaus costume without any police pressure.

A police spokesman told the paper: "We don't have anything against Nikolauses, only if they carry out crimes. But delivering packages certainly would not count."

READ MORE: Celebrating Nikolaus before Christmas

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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. 



Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

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