Newsletter of October 2019
Bulletin de Octobre 2019
33rd Annual Conference, Aveiro | Portugal
2 - 7 NOVEMBER 2020
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The 14th Christmas in Europe was officially declared open on December 3rd at a ceremony which is different every year but which always follows the same format. Fundão was no exception to the rule, and the ceremony began with the parade from the hotel school to the town hall. To the sound of a particularly energetic team of drummers, the 'ALCAIDE', the participants paraded through the streets of Fundão towards the town hall where the dignitaries awaited them.

The parade sets off to the sound of drums
The parade sets off to the sound of drums

However this colourful procession was not quite the success one would have hoped for and there were very few onlookers along the way. But this in no way dinted the good humour of the participants who, before setting foot in the town hall, posed for the traditional family photo, while the tireless percussionists carried on with their frenetic drumming.

A colourful procession
A colourful procession

The family photo!
The family photo!

The procession makes its way along the streets
The procession makes its way along the streets

A little later, in the council chamber which was too small for such an event, there were the official speeches, from Dr. Carlos São Martinho, deputy mayor of Fundão together with Jorge Umbelino, chair of the INFTUR board, and AEHT president Alfonso Benvenuto. In their speeches each of them emphasised the European spirit of the Christmas in Europe event, urging the participants, especially the young students, to adopt such a spirit. All three speakers also expressed their pleasure at being part of this celebration of sharing and friendship. In order to emphasise this spirit of sharing, Dr. Carlos São Martinho presented to several of the dignitaries a gift from the town of Fundão consisting of a beautifully decorated basket filled with regional produce - an act loudly applauded by the assembled participants.

The streamer above the entrance to the event
The streamer above the entrance to the event

The second part of the inauguration consisted of the return of the procession, still accompanied by the drummers, to the hotel school for the inauguration of the exhibition laid out on the 16 stands. At the entrance a red ribbon was cut by Christiane Keller and Alfonso Benvenuto thus opening the exhibition to the dignitaries and the many visitors.

Christiane Keller and Alfonso Benvenuto cut the traditional ribbon
Christiane Keller and Alfonso Benvenuto cut the traditional ribbon

Then came the joyful jostling around the stands, where the exhibitors had their work cut out serving their regional specialities.

jostling around the stands!
jostling around the stands!

The last semi-official event of the day was the midnight mass celebrated in Fundão's venerable parish church, where the participants gathered after a meal at the 'Estalagem da Neve' hotel; this time the procession was led by another team of drummers, the 'Bombos Rancho F.Cora da Beira'. In front of Saint Martin's church was a large bonfire in accordance with an ancient tradition, and participants were treated to music sung by the 'Grupo de cantarès de Aldeia de Joanes' choir.
The mass was celebrated by Father Barreiros, and music was provided by a choir consisting of students and teachers from the INFTUR school in Fundão. Prayers were read out by the various delegations; Christiane Keller joined in with a prayer for the recovery of Lise Brondorf her friend, a Danish teacher who was delighted to be present at his Christmas in Europe event.

the illuminated parish church
the illuminated parish church

Father Barreiros carries in infant Jesus in the procession
Father Barreiros carries in infant Jesus in the procession
3rd to 5th December 2018 in Riga
3rd to 5th December 2017 in Fátima
5th to 7th December 2018 in San Benedetto
2nd to 5th December 2015 in Diekirch

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