From a window of the Frauenkirche church, an angel with flowing blond curls, a crown, and golden wings, appears above the Nuremberg market and proclaims: “the Christkind invites you to her market, and whoever comes is welcome!”
The Christkind is a central part of German Christmas celebrations – they're the one who decorates the Christmas tree and brings in the presents.
And in Nuremberg she is the host of the world famous Christmas market.
Traditionally she is God's representative at the holy festivities. But the modern Christkind is slightly more humble. A young woman between the ages of 16 and 19 – and at least 160 centimetres tall – is chosen every two years by a jury of city leaders.
On Wednesday, this year's crown was awarded to 18-year-old Barbara Otto.
“It was my childhood dream to become the Christkind,” Otto told The Local. “I first saw her when I was five or six and ever since I wanted to become her.”
But being named Christkind isn't easy.
Otto had to convince a 15-person jury in what city spokesperson Siegfried Zelnhefer called “the most important election of the year”.
At the audition itself, the golden curls, crown and wand were nowhere to be seen – all six finalists were dressed in casual clothes with their normal haircuts.
“We're not looking for the super Christkind. It's not about show and glamour, it's about heart,” said Zelnhefer.
Barbara Otto after being chosen as the next Christkind. Photo: DPA
Otto explains that she prepared for the audition by learning the speech – which she will give on November 27th – by heart and picking a poem which she then recited to the jurors.
Zelnhefer said they eventually decided to pick Otto because she was “warm, open and spontaneous. The sum of her personal attributes convinced us.”
When the Christmas season is in full swing, the Nuremberg local will have a full schedule between November 27th, when the Christmas market opens, and Christmas Eve when her duties finally come to an end.
Four times a week she will grace the market, reading fairy tales to children as well as doing meet-and-greets with shoppers. She will also be visiting hospitals and homes for the elderly, a function that brings her particular pleasure.
“I'm most looking forward to bringing joy to people who are facing difficult circumstances, and hopefully bring a smile to their faces,” she says.