Saturday, November 26

Christmas at half gas in Central Europe

As Russia squeezes the gas rope on the Central European neck and efforts to save energy are intensifying, the question arises about the convenience of the popular Christmas lighting. Whether or not Central Europe lights up the streets for next Christmas will ultimately depend on each city council, but most cities are striving for an intermediate solution, something that is not surprising in countries where it is practically night in December at three p.m.

The city of Vienna, for example, has described as “inconceivable” the possibility of doing without lighting altogether. “Advent is the time of hope and turning it off completely would send the wrong message, defeatist. We will not allow Putin to turn off Christmas for us, so the city of Vienna will cut its lighting only between November 18 and January 8 and only between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., but we will remain faithful to Christmas traditions,” explains a spokesman for the Austrian capital city council.

However, it will be a Christmas sensibly darker than usual. The price of electricity in the Alpine republic has risen by 219% and the retail sector is under enormous pressure. For this reason, two thirds of all stores in the country, 64%, will do without lighting according to a report by the Austrian Commercial Association.

The town hall of Munich, For its part, it has justified that for years now the traditional Christmas decorations of the Bavarian capital work exclusively with LED lighting. The Christkindlmarkt, in the Marienplatz, will hardly suffer light cuts. But in Munich there are about 30 other markets, privately operated, and it is not clear that all of them will open for profitability, because of how much it would cost to light them.

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Nuremberg has also announced that it will use “one hundred percent green” electricity, as it has for ten years, and that there will be low-consumption lighting decorations. Cities that do not have this more modern and efficient lighting system are rushing to install it, such as Chemnitz, which is modernizing in a hurry your illumination. And there are also very innovative and very particular initiative solutions, such as in Peiting, in Upper Bavaria, where they have switched to a photovoltaic system with a battery. A local electrician has personally donated the technology and has assured neighbors that “whatever Putin does, the local Christmas tree will shine autonomously.”

For German environmental organizations, it is not enough. The environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe calls for a complete exemption from the Christmas lighting campaign. Its federal managing director, Jürgen Resch, believes that this year it should be “obvious” to do without the popular Christmas lights altogether. “In view of the war in Ukraine, the energy shortage, but also for climate protection reasons, we should pause for a moment«, he said, »only the orgies Private lighting systems cause an energy consumption of more than 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, as much as a medium-sized city with 400,000 inhabitants consumes in a year«.

Perhaps it is these arguments that have inspired some cities, which opt for radical cuts. In Wörth an der Donau, for example, in the Upper Palatinate, it is already certain that there will be no Christmas lights this year. There, the environmental committee of the city council has even decided to do without the lights of the castle of Wörth.

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Berlin will not finance lighting

And the Berlin Senate has also announced that it will not finance the lighting, but they are collecting donations so that at least in the Kudam and in Unter den Linden there is some kind of ignition. And so far it is on the right track.

“In the American classic ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’, a villain tries to spoil the mood of a community by stealing all the Christmas decorations, but the inhabitants of Whoville foil the plan,” Lars von Törne recalled in his Tagesspiegel column. , the most widely read newspaper in Berlin.

“It’s about more than appearances: the choice between light and dark is also about how much we want to let the crisis energy and other consequences of the war of aggression against Ukraine determine our daily lives. Light is a symbol that, especially in these times, can not only give people confidence, but also send the message to the world that we are not willing to give in to challenges so easily.”

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