Poland is a country steeped in traditions; so it is not surprising that the Christmas in Europe inauguration ceremony should have taken on an altogether unique character.
By 15.00 the preparations were well under way. Students dressed as princes and princesses formed a guard of honour and at 16.00 came the traditional cutting of the ribbon by Roman David Tauber, the school’s rector, by Christiane Keller, the founder of Christmas in Europe, and by the Prelate Wojciech Wolniewicz, in the presence of a host of Polish authorities and VIPs. The parade of the delegations bearing their flags was followed by the entrance of a large European flag carried by girls wearing costumes, to the strains of the Ode to Joy, the European anthem. It was a beautiful spectacle, and was followed, of course, by the official speeches.
The speechesRoman David Tauber first greeted those present and welcomed all the delegations and the many VIPs, in particular the guests from Cuba, who would be responsible for ‘exporting the Christmas in Europe concept.’ Dr Tauber concluded by saying ‘I am deeply hopeful that the shared idea of bringing together the young people of Europe through the spirit of Christmas will strengthen the belief we all share that the world is our common home in which everyone will find their place at the table, irrespective of the language they speak or the colour of their skin’.
Christiane Keller thanked Dr Tauber and his right-hand woman Danuta Przybylak, and spoke on behalf of everyone when she said, ‘After this formal opening ceremony, I should like to thank Danuta Przybylak and Roman Tauber, as well as all their teams, for agreeing to take on for the second time the organisation of Christmas in Europe – this 18th edition - in Poznan. We are always happy when we meet up with two dozen delegations from northern to southern Europe – from Vilnius to Marseilles – and from the East and the West, from Podebrady to the Azores … The Christmas in Europe concept involves four phases: the Exhibition, the Parade, the Cultural Programme and the European Buffet: all of these give us the opportunity to prove that what makes us rich is our differences: in gastronomy, in culture, in traditions, in costumes, in language and in our way of life. And I should like to send this message to all you young people: get to know as many people as possible, it is you who bring with you the true richness of the AEHT, an association which has 400 member schools together with all their students and teachers in 35 countries. It is our differences which enrich us’.
Then it was the turn of Arkadiusz Blochowiak, a member of the Greater Poland Regional Council, and of Maximilian Ptak, assistant Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office: both of them expressed their joy about such an event which brought hope for the future, and wished everyone an excellent stay in Poznan as participants in this Christmas in Europe.
In accordance with tradition, the VIPs and the visitors next visited the 24 stands, tasting the special titbits on offer and talking with the delegations and asking about their various particular Christmas customs. This was a truly convivial moment, as always at Christmas in Europe. Then came the inaugural dinner at 18.00 much appreciated by all the guests, while young artists provided background music consisting of vocal and instrumental pieces.