A hard day was in store for the participants in Christmas in Europe on this Sunday December 3rd 2017. And indeed they first of all had to take possession of their stands, set them up and decorate them beneath the large marquee which had been erected in a park close to the shrine.
The inauguration took place as per the programme, following the inaugural parade, in the presence of several VIPs and with the participation of the Sociedade Filarmónica Ouriense-Banda e DanSing. The officials had to fight their way through a milling crowd to walk the few metres between the marquee entrance and their reserved seats, which they occupied only after visiting each stand and sampling the specialities on offer – a real gastronomic tour of the flavours of Europe with the tastes of Christmas.
The official part of the proceedings opened with a beautiful Christmas concert played for the appreciative audience by the Sociedade Filarmónica, conducted by Joaquim Neves.
The concert was followed by various speeches:
The speakers evoked the demise of Francisco Vieira who had passed away on October 1st 2017, and who was the heart and soul of Christmas in Europe in Fátima, an event which he so much wanted to host. They expressed their pleasure that all these delegations had come from all over Europe, and wished them an excellent stay, not only in Portugal but especially in Fátima, a major centre of the cult of the Virgin. Ana Paula Pais for her part made a point of greeting Christiane Keller – Christmas Chris – the founder of Christmas in Europe.
We should however mention, and it is a great shame, that the loud background noise made it very difficult to hear the speeches. This was because a part of the marquee had been reserved for cookery demonstrations which apparently held more interest for the visitors who were eager to discover new ways of cooking.
Les delegations at their stands
The craft stands