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A Europe of Traditions

The Traditions of Christmas, Carnival, and Easter in Germany.

In my home country, Christmas time starts with the 1st of December, children receive “Adventskalender”, a calendar made mostly out of chocolates, which are used as a count down until Christmas Eve. This period is called the time of advent, from Latin adventus meaning arrival. Each Sunday during these four weeks is especially important, as, on these Sundays of Advent, we are lighting up one candle after another on our Advent wreath, until at the end, there are 4 candles lit: the sign that Christmas has come.

On the 6th of December, we celebrate Saint Nicolaus day, in the night from the 5th to the 6th, children put out their boots so that, while everyone is asleep, Saint Nicolaus can visit and leave chocolates and small gifts in these boots.

Moreover, our main celebration of Christmas is in the evening of the 24th, Christmas Eve. We visit the mass or nativity plays by children up until the age of nine. Afterward, the whole family goes home for dinner, traditionally roast goose, potato salad or Raclette and waits for the Christ Child to bring the presents. Therefore, until the bell rings, the children hide away, mostly with their grandparents, as otherwise, the Christ Child will not appear.

The Christmas Days, 25th and 26th of December, are used to visit relatives, spend time together and, again, eat a lot of good food.

Officially, the Carnival season already starts on the 11th of November at 11:11, however celebrations only really begin at “Weiberfastnacht” (the Thursday before Ash Wednesday), from this day on until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a lot of colorful street parades take place with the main event being on Carnival/Rose Monday.

After 40 days of fasting, which follow our Carnival, the time of Easter starts. On Easter Sunday, children go out into gardens, fields or even the woods, to find chocolate Easter eggs, hidden by the Easter bunny. At night, each community has huge Easter fires, in the form of a gigantic bonfire. In my area, this tradition is mixed with a fun village rivalry by trying to inflame the bonfire of neighboring villages before its time.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Helen and I am a volunteer from Germany. I am especially happy to give a short overview over the rule of Charlemagne, as he heavily influenced my hometown.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing to a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.