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Time before Christmas in Germany

Some traditions have moved into the background in recent years and others are still very important for the people.

Our Christmas starts with the Advent season. It starts four weeks before Christmas day on a Sunday. There we light the first candle from our Advent wreath and every Sunday until Christmas we will light one more candle. So, at Christmas, all four candles will be lit on the Advent wreath.

During this time, we have another celebration. On the 6th of December Saint Nicholas visits our houses. He was the bishop of Myra and this is why he has a bishop’s hat and a bishop’s stick. In my hometown, we have this tradition that all girls in the last year of primary school dress up like an angel and go with men, who are dressed up like Nicholas, to children and give them presents.

On this day we have a second tradition. That evening we put one of our boots before our front door and wait for Saint Nicholas to leave sweets, nuts, and tangerines in this boot. Actually, the parents leave these things in the boots but the children believe that it was Saint Nicholas.

These things start the Christmas time in Germany and are the reason we are more excited for Christmas eve.

The text was written in September 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Lena and I am 19 years old. I live in a small village in the west of Germany and before starting my EVS I finished high school.


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.