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Fröhliche Weihnachten!

The smell of fresh Christmas cookies and streets decorated with beautiful fairy lights everywhere!

Austria can be a Christmas paradise, because if you’re lucky enough it will be covered in a thick layer of snow and long before the 24th December, when the main celebration takes place, the whole country is in Christmas mood.

It usually all starts at the beginning of December, as that’s when the Christmas markets start and the streets are enlightened with fairy lights – so all the towns start looking Christmassy. In this time people like coming together at the Christmas markets to drink mulled wine or meet up at someone’s home and enjoy some homemade Christmas cookies. The most famous ones are called “Vanillekipferl”, which are, like the name tells us, moon-shaped and with vanilla flavor.

Then 24th December comes on and that’s the latest when people start decorating their Christmas tree. Meanwhile, the preparations for the feast are taking place, which is either served before or after the heading out of the Christmas presents. The sound of a small cloche is what signals the children that they can enter the room and get their presents. Later many people attend the Midnight Mass.

The following 25th and 26th December are for visiting your friends and families, so the delicious food has no end.

It’s only with the 6th January, when the three holy kings enter the house, that the celebrations come to an end and most of the people get rid of their Christmas tree. But the fairy lights in the streets stay longer, so the Christmas feeling is still in the air.

The text was written in September 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Hannah Fontaine, I’m an ERASMUS+ volunteer from Austria and recently graduated from high school. My biggest hobby is photography and I’m also into other forms of art (music, painting, videography, …). Also, I really love traveling and getting to know new people and cultures!


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 for 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.