German church complains Christmas markets open too early

German church complains Christmas markets open too early
Visitors to the Christmas market St. Pauli in Hamburg on Tuesday, when it was already open. Photo: DPA
Germany's Protestant Church complained Thursday of the "merciless commercialization" of Christmas and the early opening of festive markets in some cities.

“What remains of the rhythm of life, the rhythm of the liturgical year, when everything is available all the time and thus arbitrary?” said a spokeswoman of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

“The merciless commercialization of Advent and Christmas spells a contrary 
message to what the Bible tells us.”

She said the four-week Advent period starting December 2nd “should be experienced for its true meaning, as the time of anticipation of Christmas, of the coming of God”.

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Germany has a long tradition of Christmas markets that sell mulled wine,  sweets, handicrafts, Christmas decorations and other presents.

Most German cities, among them Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne and 
Lübeck, will open their Christmas markets on November 26th.

Others opened on Thursday, including markets in Freiburg, Dortmund and Düsseldorf, while some have been operating since mid-November, such as in the city of Essen.

Essen's Catholic diocese made a similar complaint about the markets that  draw hordes of shoppers into city centres.

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“We don't want to be spoilsports,” diocese spokesman Ulrich Lota told the DPA news agency.

But, he said, “it is important for us, as devout Christians, to point out…that Christmas is not some year-end cultural celebration with lights but the festivity that marks the birth of Jesus.”

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