Decorating the Christmas tree, dressing up the coffee table, slicing the Christmas stollen – traditions that are a Dresdener’s yearly routine may seem quite odd and arouse one’s curiosity. Therefore the TUD Welcome Center offers the third year in a row the so called “Weihnachtspaten” program. Dresdeners invite international researchers to their place and show them what Christmas in Dresden is all about.
In 2015 more than 20 international researchers from over 13 countries were matched with professors, employees and students of the TU Dresden, other research facilities and other welcoming hosts from Dresden.
Of course this situation was new for both sides in most cases. Who is visiting me and my family? What are the typical traditions in Dresden that I’m going to learn about? What festivities are typical in other countries? What does a church visit look like?
Jay from Nepal met his match on December 24, the evening where Christmas usually is celebrated in Germany. He was picked up at a bus station close to the place of the Uhlmann family. They have already been to Nepal and prepared a symbol of recognition – a Nepalese flag. “I was pretty much impressed with this”, Jay stated.
Before visiting the church for the first time Jay was told the story of Jesus birth. At the church “so many rituals were going on and I especially liked the nativity play”.
Many other international researchers sent us their very own Dresden Christmas story and how much they enjoyed it: “Laércio played some Brazilian songs with the guitar for them and I think we all spent a funny time. We definitely felt like at home, the hosts were extremely kind and the conversations were very pleasant”.
The host family of Wei Liu got to know more about what the Chinese cuisine offers. “We taught them to prepare Chinese dumplings. It was a very nice experience for them and for us, we enjoyed the dumpling dinner very much, especially the children liked the dumplings”. Wei Lius host family did not only learn how to prepare delicious dumplings but also was given an insight into the characteristics of the Chinese spring festival.
The Kaßner-family took advantage of their enormous table and so three international researchers could join the table. “The table was lavishly set and therefore there was no reason to leave early. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. For us it’s an enrichment because we get an entirely new perspective of our city of Dresden”.
Farahnaz, who joined the Kaßner-family too also learned how Christmas decoration can be easily hand crafted. “The visit gave us the opportunity to find nice friends, bringing us closer to the German culture and we learn how to make stars for the Christmas tree.”
Mounika reported us: “We had some sweets, the traditional “Christstollen”, hot chocolate and coffee and talked about our different Christmas traditions from India, USA, and Germany. It was a marvellous time!””
Altogether we can say that international researchers not only learned about the typical (pre-)Christmas activities in Dresden but also the Dresdener hosts learned a bunch of things about Christmas and other festivities from all over the world.
Now, as the New Year began people are getting rid of the Christmas trees, they store away the decoration and what is left is the thrill of anticipation that will increase month by month and will remind us again in fall that very soon it’s Christmas time again.