“Ladies and gentlemen who once were children…”

Everyone in Nuremberg knows this line. As the “Christkind” (Christmas gift-bringer), Rebekka Volland opened the world-famous Nuremberg “Christkindlesmarkt” Christmas Market.  /// by 

Nürnberger Christkind As the Nuremberg ‘‘Christkind,” Rebekka Volland delivers the ceremonial prologue from the balcony of the Church of our Lady.
 

Nuremberg-born, travelling the globe: Chosen by a jury every two years, the world-famous Nuremberg Christkind is an ambassador for the city of Nuremberg. The applicant should not be afraid of heights, she should be impervious to the weather and preferably born in Nuremberg. She should also be warm-hearted, open and resilient. And Rebekka Volland meets all of these criteria. At NürnbergMesse, the former Nuremberg Christkind now works in the Third Party Exhibitions & Convention Center department.

Nürnberger Christkind

Rebekka had to get used to all the media attention she received in her role as the Nuremberg Christkind.

Rebekka, you were the Nuremberg Christkind. When was that, and how did it come about?
Rebekka Volland: I was the Nuremberg Christkind in 2007 and 2008. That was followed by two years – 2009 and 2010 – during which I represented Nuremberg abroad. You travel to Nuremberg’s twin towns and promote the Christmas Market and Nuremberg as a ‘‘Christmas City.” The decision to apply was relatively spontaneous. I heard an interview on the radio with Eva Sattler, my Christkind predecessor, and learned about the duties of the position for the first time. I was interested in the commitment to social causes. At that time I was volunteering as the leader of the Catholic youth group in my village.

Nürnberger Christkind

Rebekka had to get used to all the media attention she received in her role as the Nuremberg Christkind.

There are several weeks between the election of the Nuremberg Christkind and the prologue on the balcony of the Church of our Lady in Nuremberg. What happens during that period?
The election was in September or October. In the weeks before the opening of the Christmas Market on the first weekend of Advent, you are mainly learning the prologue by heart. You get voice training from the State Theatre. It’s considered very important that every girl keep her own way of speaking and should not distort her voice. It’s also in this period that the golden gown that the Christkind wears is altered to fit you. And I prepared stories and poems for my visits to other Christmas markets and kindergartens. While all this is going on, the tension grows and you’re getting more and more attention from the media. That’s something that you have to get used to!

Nürnberger Christkind

Rebekka had to get used to all the media attention she received in her role as the Nuremberg Christkind.

At the opening of the Christmas Market, you spoke to thousands of visitors from all over the world. What was that like, and what experiences do you like to look back on in particular?
The prologue on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady was a fantastic experience! But you’re so nervous and there are thousands of thoughts going through your head at once, so the three minutes feel like just a second. Afterwards you wish that you could get a bird’s-eye view of it all again. Thankfully there are lots of photos of it! I found Christmas Eve especially lovely. We were out and about the whole day in communities and social welfare establishments, where volunteers were preparing Christmas parties for the homeless or socially disadvantaged families. It was lovely to see how people are willing to relinquish their own celebrations in order to put other people first.
What does the Nuremberg Christkind do after Christmas?
Sleep! (laughing) After the long Christmas period, you’re absolutely exhausted. This year, too, the Christkind will be working from morning till night for a whole four weeks. I experienced so much during that time and talked with a lot of people, but I couldn’t process it all until after Christmas. When things got quieter, then I finally had time to read all the letters and Christmas wish lists that I’d received.

Nürnberger Christkind

Rebekka had to get used to all the media attention she received in her role as the Nuremberg Christkind.

Visiting Nuremberg’s twin cities is also part of the duties of the Christkind. What was your role when you went abroad?
After two years in Nuremberg you become the “international” Christkind, as it were. I went to Chicago, for example, visiting the Christmas Market there and meeting a lot of people who are spreading German Christmas traditions in America. As the Nuremberg Christkind, you are of course promoting the city of Nuremberg and the custom of the Christmas Market in particular. This also involves a lot of awareness-raising. Thanks to the crown and golden gown, the Americans immediately saw the Christkind as a kind of “Christmas Fairy.” It was also nice to meet a lot of older people who had immigrated to the USA, or were the descendants of immigrants, who still remembered their experiences in Germany. At times like that, the role of the Christkind is more of a passive one: You have to be open-minded and listen to people’s stories.
Are you still in contact with others who were the Christkind in the past?
Yes, we stay in contact and even have a WhatsApp group! Every year on 24 December, there’s also the traditional meeting of former “Christkinder” with the current Christkind at the Christmas Market.
On Friday (25.11.16) the Nuremberg Christmas Market will be ceremoniously opened. Do you have a tip for the current Christkind?
Barbara Otto is doing the job for the second time now, so my tip is: simply enjoy, savour every moment and appreciate this special experience.

Many thanks for talking with us, Rebekka!

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