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Christmas market at Klausen

Sparkling lights

Something magical is happening in the town, which has dressed up for the annual Christmas market. Outlandishly dressed figures roam the alleys here and there, carrying lanterns and hiding their faces with hoods.

Who knows. We quickly forget them as we enter the medieval town of Klausen by the twinkling light of hundreds of candles. What a warm atmosphere on this frosty winter night. The church door opens invitingly wide and we enter a display of historic nativity scenes that remind us why we celebrate this Christmas and, ultimately, why we came to this market.
What a warm atmosphere on this frosty winter night.
South Tyroleans have always been creative nativity scene makers. The one I like best is the one in which Joseph, Mary and the newborn Jesus take refuge in a discarded pot. It is very reminiscent of a stable found in distress. Another nativity scene depicts the then medieval city. I shudder at the sight of it and at the idea of what the cold winters down here on the frigid Eisack river might have been like then.

Outside, in front of the church, the first stalls wait with woolen mittens, the popular felt slippers, fresh sweet or savory doughnuts, and peasant bread from the wood-fired oven. Woodcarver Gerhard Ploner of Gufidaun stands visibly proud among the objects of a busy carving season. A few feet away, Martino Luciano sells reproductions of old photos of South Tyrol. Locals are looking for views of their villages from a century ago.
Many stores in Klausen are open to the public. Buying gifts has never been more enjoyable than here, amidst arts, crafts and delicacies. The first mulled wine is finally served on the church square. A small fire crackles in the fire bowl, where tourists and locals chat while holding their hands over the warming flames. Along with them are three men who look like princes from the Arabian Nights.

Tinne Square is the center of the Christmas market and a place of treats. Chocolate and roasted almond fruit skewers, mulled wine, apple brulé, sweet dumplings, and herb specialties are available here-everything the heart and palate desire.
Klausen, which with each step is transformed more and more into the Bethlehem of December 24 more than 2,000 years ago.
Visitors to the Christmas market suddenly gather around a couple with a donkey. They are Joseph and Mary. Mary is in an advanced state of pregnancy, as is the donkey they have with them. Together with them, we walk through Klausen, which with each step is transformed more and more into the Bethlehem of December 24 more than 2,000 years ago. We go from door to door, are turned away, freeze with them and eventually, with the help of a beggar, find a barn where Jesus will be born. The small barn is transformed into a living nativity scene. Hooded figures stand guard as shepherds at the door, while the princes turn out to be kings, who create a true Christmas atmosphere with their three-voice singing.

Text: Sylvia Pollex
Photos: Thomas Rötting, Tiberio Sorvillo, Koni Studios
Publication: 2022
Mary and Joseph