Christ at the center of Strasbourg Christmas market
Update on 12 December 2018
It is with shock that the LWF has received the news of the attacks at the Marché de Nöel in Strasbourg on 11 December. The LWF condemns these senseless acts of violence and stands in solidarity with the people of Strasbourg. We pray for the ministry of the church as people cope with fear, anger and grief, and we pray for God’s wisdom to guide those providing accompaniment.
Message of Lutheran and Catholic church leaders to millions of visitors
(LWI) - Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders in Strasbourg, France, are working together to remind the nearly 2 million visitors to the city’s famous Christmas market of the true meaning of the holiday season.
Christian Albecker, president of the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL) and Monsignor Luc Ravel, archbishop of Strasbourg, are encouraging tourists to keep the birth of Christ central to Christmas.
In a joint editorial on the website Les Noëlies, the two church leaders encourage visitors to the Strasbourg Christmas market to savor the city’s music celebrations, but also the silence and meditation focused on Advent and Christmas.
The UEPAL is a member church of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and Albecker serves on the LWF Council.
Encouragement to focus on the essential
“In a society and a world that never stops working 24 hours-a-day, Christmas could be just another moment or slogan in the advertising whirlwind that passes,” the two church leaders caution in an editorial.
The Christmas traditions in Strasbourg, “are not sheer nostalgia for the past, but an encouragement to refocus on the essential, on the heart of the Christian message – on Christmas, God became Man and the Word became flesh,” they write.
The Christmas traditions in Strasbourg “are not sheer nostalgia for the past, but an encouragement to refocus on the essential, on the heart of the Christian message – on Christmas, God became Man and the Word became flesh.”
The city of Strasbourg is known for many reasons, notably as the seat of the European Parliament and the Court of Human Rights. But thanks to the growing reputation of the Christmas market, it has gained a new slogan, “Strasbourg, capital of Christmas.”
During Advent, visitors flock to Strasbourg from all over the world, soaking up the city's unique atmosphere and cultural and commercial offerings. The economic impact has spread throughout the region, leading to another slogan - “Christmas has a country: Alsace.”
Conferences, spiritual concerts
Throughout the advent and Christmas seasons, the Alsace region takes on a festive atmosphere with its cities and villages illuminated with thousands of lights. The celebrations which began on 25 November will conclude on 6 January, Epiphany.
Christian Albecker, President of the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
Recently, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches felt compelled to help visitors recall the deeper meaning of the holiday, and in 2002 they began working with local authorities to present conferences, spiritual concerts and celebrations.
President Albecker and Archbishop Ravel reflect on Advent as a time of waiting, noting that the Advent wreath was created in 1839 by Hamburg pastor, Rev. Johann Hinrich Wichern, who ran an inner-city mission for orphans and boys living on the streets, to help them await Christmas.
“This wreath invites us to take the time to better welcome Christ who comes to us,” they add.