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Christmas time in Germany

From “Nikolaus” to “Christkind” – who brings the presents?

A long time ago, Saint Nicholas presented the children with gifts every year on the 6th of December. This act was a Catholic veneration of saints.

Protestants, however, did not believe in this and so – probably even the reformer Martin Luther made sure that the distribution of presents was postponed to the 24th of December. From this point, Jesus alias the “Holy Christian” brought the gifts. This finally became the German “Christkind”.

Despite this, up to now, “Nikolaus” brings small presents to the children, on the 6th of December. They have to put their clean shoes in front of their door and will find some presents in them, the next morning.

This is an act of remembrance of the day of the death of Saint Nicholas, who gave some money to poor people.

The tree in the house

Every year before Christmas Eve it is a tradition to erect a Christmas tree in the living room and decorate it festively with candles, bells, angels, tinsel, gingerbread and a star on the top of the tree.

On Christmas Eve, the family gathers around the Christmas tree in the living room and unpacks the presents, which were previously placed under the tree.

This is an old tradition that has already been mentioned in works by famous writers such as Goethe.

The text was written in September 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Alina and I am a nineteen years old girl from Germany. I have finished my High school this summer and want to study next year. At this time, I do volunteering at Academica da Madeira.


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.