Christmas in Dresden – Volker Schunck

“Have a nice weekend”, “yes, thank you, you too, and have a nice 1st Advent!” … “Oh well…” The cashier at the checkout had to laugh at my answer.

This brief conversation happened today at the supermarket checkout. How the unconscious sometimes plays tricks on you. I don’t know how you feel about Christmas. Despite my hesitant answer, despite the many critical articles I have written about the commercialization of Christmas in recent years, I am happy this year to finally be able to go to the Christmas market again.

You can see the Christmas tree behind me, which I spontaneously bought for Christmas last year. I’m slowly starting to get a taste for Christmas again. And here in Dresden, Christmas is also very important. Finally, after 2 years of Covid-19 abstinence, the Striezelmarkt and the many other Christmas markets on Neumarkt or Goldenen Reiter are taking place again.

Fortunately, those who had called for the Christmas lights to be reduced in order to save electricity did not prevail. I think back to the last few years: For me, of course, a cup or two of mulled wine is a must, a mushroom dish from the large pan, or kale and smoked sausages. I also like to drink this pudding punch, which name I always forget, which may have something to do with the fact that I’ve had mulled wine before. Since I don’t drink alcohol all year round, I feel already quite tipsy after a cup or two of mulled wine. And for dessert a cheese crepe sprinkled with herbs, and a waffle with cherries and cream. Hmm… splendid!

I’m curious how the prices are this year. I’ve already heard that the mulled wine has become 1 euro more expensive, with the other things it might be similar. I expect to spend between 40 and 50 euros. What I have never bought at the Christmas markets was Stollen. It’s really overpriced, even if some tourists grab hold of it to be able to say at home: “This is original Dresden Stollen from the Striezelmarkt.” Dresden Stollen are also available in normal Dresden bakeries and supermarkets. The Dresden Stollen by Dr. Quendt has just become the test winner at “Stiftung Warentest”. And what is particularly nice, of course, are all the smells at the Christmas market, which change with every step: from roasted almonds, Thuringian sausages and everything else that I can’t remember at the moment because it was so long ago. Yes, the smell of fir branches is of course also part of it. And the pushing and shoving, parents dragging their children behind them, and the big children’s eyes and outstretched fingers pointing in amazement at everything that moves. I often got into conversation at the standing tables with people from Bavaria or Northern Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia and Canada. Now that I’m reminding myself of all this, I realize how much I’ve missed Christmas.

Christmas is like an island in the raging waters of world events, a brief change of perspective and the taking of a deep breathe amidst the fear of a bitterly cold winter and high natural gas bills. Life is worth living and a reason to celebrate.

At Christmas we celebrate a children’s birthday party. With everything that goes with it: mulled wine – with or without alcohol and pastries, stollen and chocolate. Jesus, who is told of turning water into wine at a wedding as a young man, knew how to celebrate properly. But we’re not there yet: Today, that means Christmas 2022, like every year, we celebrate his birthday. So that we don’t forget: Life is not just about work, fear and worries, no, today we celebrate the one who opens up a new horizon for us:

God is living reality and not a dusty tradition. He is our father and he loves us. So change your way and open your heart to your fellow humans and to God. Christmas is not an invention to stimulate economic growth, Christmas is not in the hands of the profiteers, but happens today where a small child is born into the dark night of a heart to transform it. (Volker Schunck)

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