PARADE AND OPENING CEREMONY
Once the finishing touches had been put to the exhibition, the moment had come, on the morning of Sunday December 10th, to organise the inaugural parade and the opening ceremony. The different delegations gathered in front of the City Hotel, wearing their costumes and carrying flags and sometimes also bearing musical instruments. At 11.30 on the dot, as per the progamme, the joyous and handsome band set off for their parade through the pedestrian zone which was still almost deserted since the shops did not open until midday. The few onlookers all looked puzzled at seeing this colourful, laughing and happy crowd. At the head of the parade were the flags of Sweden and of the AEHT, and behind them ‘Mother Christmas’ together with Alfonso Benvenuto and Klaus Enengl, two AEHT vice-presidents.
As the parade ended, close to the school, a ‘family photograph’ was taken of all those involved in Christmas in Europe.
Then the official opening of the event took place at the entrance to the hall, presided over by Staffan Werme, mayor and president of the city of Orebrö. Christiane Keller, inventor of Christmas in Europe, also fondly known as ‘Mother Christmas’, spoke to the mayor and to the audience, reminding them that this event, which took place for the first time in Kaysersberg (France) is now up to its 15th version; as well as being a celebration of Christmas, the event is a way of bringing together a broad range of young people from a number of countries to exchange views and to show the public the Christmas traditions which are alive in other countries.
In his address Staffan Werme recalled his childhood memories connected with his birthday which was close to Christmas; and he encouraged the young people to share the spirit of Christmas and of peace.
Then together with Christiane Keller he proceeded to cut the traditional ribbon and to visit the exhibition, which was highly successful as, according to the organisers, it was visited by 1,600 students as well as by a large number of townspeople.