Who would have thought that this Christmas in Europe celebration, created in Kaysersberg in Alsace in 1992, would continue into the next century and carry on until the threshold of 2012? And yet this 20th Christmas in Europe very nearly didn’t happen!
But European solidarity is no idle word in the AEHT, and thanks to the commitment of Marija Razan, Director of the Zagreb Hotel and Tourism School, who took up the challenge at the last minute with her team of teachers and students, this first Croatian version did indeed take place, thus saving the AEHT from a ‘blank year.’
And what’s more, the edition benefitted from a vital financial support of the Youth in Action EU Programme and the country’s sister schools joined the Zagreb school for the occasion, as if to provide further help and assistance. Several directors and delegations from Croatian schools were present in Zagreb for this event, and distances and difficulties were no obstacle.
And what a good idea it was too to attach a couple of student ambassadors to each delegation to provide help for any matters, be they practical or otherwise. The programme included the exhibition in the magnificent Westin hotel (one of the best in Zagreb, belonging to the Starwood Group, now a partner of the AEHT for the provision of teacher placements); the impressive 40-strong folk group dressed in red and white which greeted our arrival; setting up the exhibition stands – always a festive moment even if it is hushed; the colourful parade headed up by the Guard of the Kravat Regiment which made its way to the cathedral where the mass was dedicated to the delegations and to the European spirit.
Then there was the European buffet, a more than generous spread, introduced by a dynamic choral performance; and the harmonious cultural programme in the handsome theatre next door to the school, with all seats taken; and finally that beautiful excursion to Krapina and its extraordinary museum covering the period from the beginning of the universe to the present day.
And then finally the gala dinner, with a classical/folk concert for starters, and lots of friendship shared out among the finely laid tables. And all of this in a city steeped in history, with its many ‘hearts’ and with its numerous museums.
Also this 20th Christmas in Europe inspired Marija Razan with two key ideas:
- We should start work on a beautiful book entitled ‘Christmas in Europe’ which would contain the reactions and observations of all the participants, collected together for each version of the event – in future it would be the main theme of this Christmas celebration. Odds are it will quickly become a best seller!
- We should open a ‘good memories’ museum in Zagreb, to go with the ‘broken relationships’ museum which is one of the city’s most popular.
Thanks to you all, and a Happy Christmas in Europe and throughout the world!