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March 1, 2020

With a height of around 70 meters, it is one of the highest of its kind.

With a height of around 70 meters, it is one of the highest of its kind.

However, there is often something completely different behind it." reports the Berliner. In some cases, it may be the ideas of Christmas shaped by the media that have not been fulfilled, or the intense time in which everyone is very close and has to deal with themselves and their relationships with one another.

Uwe Müller: The head of the Berlin office in the church telephone counseling in Berlin and Brandenburg reports on the work of the voluntary helpers. (Source: Church telephone pastoral care in Berlin and Brandenburg)

A solid foundation is especially important

And to find out exactly that, to have the right instinct and a good understanding of people, are essential characteristics of telephone counselors. For this reason, not everyone who just likes to make calls can work here, explains Müller. As early as the selection process, it is carefully checked whether someone has the appropriate qualifications. This is followed by intensive training in which applicants have to deal primarily with themselves. Müller adds: "Only those who have a strong and solid foundation and know what they believe in can help others." Otherwise, the crises of others could quickly throw you off track, as they remind you of your own repressed experiences.

Telephone counselors spend the night in the office

For this honorary position, the employees have to put their heart and soul into their work – and they are. Sometimes they even spend the night in the office and drive straight to work after their four-hour shift. "That’s why there are two beds and a shower here" the manager explains.

You can see that the men and women who work here are satisfied with their lives: They smile, appear balanced, relaxed and firmly committed to life. "Callers can tell whether the person they are talking to is serious." This is especially important for people who are already deeply in a crisis or are about to die. Because only if the telephone counselor has hope for the person seeking help will the conversation actually help. That is the difference between therapists and telephone counselors. And: telephone chaplains can clearly express their opinion to the caller. However, all of these points make it even more difficult to find suitable employees.

Prevent family disaster at Christmas

So Christmas is not just dreary for the volunteers. To avoid a family disaster on the holidays, Müller has another tip: "It is best to agree in good time before Christmas what your wishes and expectations are. What does your ideal Christmas look like? Does it always have to be the same traditions or can it not be different?" Because just because it has always been done that way doesn’t always mean it has to be good and liked by everyone.

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Telephone pastoral care The telephone pastoral care was founded in 1956. The trigger was the high suicide rate in West Berlin. The Berlin-Brandenburg telephone pastoral care is not linked to the church and is financed primarily through private donations. Telephone counseling in Germany is financed, among other things, by church funds. Important components of the telephone counseling are: The volunteer employees on the phone, the constant availability and the anonymity of both the caller and the telephone counselor. Around 139 women and men work on a voluntary basis for the Berlin-Brandenburg telephone pastoral care.

Thank you, Uwe Müller, for talking to us. And many thanks to the volunteer staff who are there for those seeking help 365 days a year, around the clock – even between the years.

It gets particularly crowded in many inner cities during Advent. In order to relieve traffic, some cities offer free bus and train rides during the Advent season. 

Fürth made the start last year: on Saturdays in the Advent season, you could take the bus there for free. The concept was well received and will be adopted by other cities this year. 

Free bus travel on Advent Saturdays

Several other German cities are also offering free bus trips on Advent Saturdays this year. This includes: 


In addition to the increased volume of traffic in Advent, environmental and climate protection also play a role for the cities. In Bamberg, for example, the offer applies to tariff level D in the city of Bamberg. Those who come from the surrounding area can use the parking spaces on Kronacher Strasse or Heinrichsdamm and drive from there to the city center for free. "This is a good decision for the shopping city of Bamberg" says Stadtwerke manager Michael Fiedeldey. 

Free bus and train travel in Heilbronn and Hanover

For the first time, Heilbronner-Hohenloher-Haller Nahverkehr (HNV) will also be offering free rides in buses and trams on Advent Saturdays this year. "The whole family can use public transport together" said the HNV managing director Gerhard Gross "Heilbronn voice". Because this will increase the number of passengers, the transport capacities would also be expanded. 

In Hanover, free driving is only valid on November 30th. "The main aim of the free driving day is to whet the appetite for a relaxing visit to Hanover" is the name of the GVH (Großraum-Verkehr Hannover GmbH). For a total of 29 hours – from 0:00 a.m. on Saturday to 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, you can travel free of charge on buses, trams and local trains operated by the network partners in the entire GVH area. 

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The service is free on these Saturdays

The Saturdays in Advent, on which you can travel by bus and train free of charge in some cities, are this year: 

November 30th December 7th 14th December21. DecemberSources used: Stadtwerke Bambergwetter.com: Free bus and train travel in Advent"Heilbronn voice": Free local transport in AdventAdditional sourcesShow fewer sources

A Christmas tree is part of the festival. Particularly impressive specimens can be found all over the world – including in Germany. 

The most spectacular Christmas trees in the world
Photo series with 7 pictures

Large, green and smelling of coniferous forest: these are roughly the criteria for a classic Christmas tree. But there are specimens that are completely different and still exude Christmas magic. 

7. Berlin: The beauty king

Christmas tree in front of the Brandenburg Gate: Since December 1st, the tree has been illuminated again in front of the Berlin landmark. (Source: A. Friedrichs / imago images)

Perhaps the most beautiful public Christmas tree in Germany sparkles right in front of the Brandenburg Gate, on Pariser Platz. The giant fir tree has been a gift from Berlin’s Norwegian twin town Drøbak since German reunification. For the fifth time, the tree will come from Thuringia in 2019. Around 30,000 lights and hundreds of Christmas tree balls decorate the tree.

6. Rio de Janeiro: The Swimmer

Floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro: With a height of around 70 meters, the tree is one of the largest of its kind. (Source: Agencia EFE / imago images)

At the beginning of Advent, a special Christmas tree has its spectacular appearance: a floating specimen from Rio de Janeiro. With a height of around 70 meters, it is one of the highest of its kind. Almost a million light bulbs let it shine in eight different patterns every evening. 

5. Zurich: The Singing One

Singing Christmas Tree: A choir placed in the tree makes this Christmas tree ring. (Source: SRT archive picture)

Most Christmas trees can sparkle. But sing? Only the one brings this feat "Singing Christmas Tree" from Zurich. On Werdmühleplatz there are daily performances by choirs from all over Switzerland. The groups then perform their Christmas repertoire on a stage as high as a house. They make the tree ring and put the audience in pre-Christmas emotions. The romantic Christmas market with its nostalgic carousel does the rest. 

4. New York: The world famous

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: The lights of the tree are switched on during a solemn ceremony. (Source: Marc Schüler)

The official Christmas Tree Lighting kicks off at Christmas time. This year the tree is 23 meters high – and it has already been 70 years. The chain of lights alone, which makes the tree shine in Christmas light, is around eight kilometers long. The spruce is also decorated with a star with over 20,000 Swarovski crystals – a stunning sight in front of the world-famous Rockefeller Center. 

3. Washington: The Old One

National Christmas Tree: This year, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania turned on the lights on the tree. (Source: Zuma Press / imago images)

Of the "National Christmas tree" is a more than nine meters high blue spruce from the state of Pennsylvania this year. It stands in Ellipse Park between the White House and the Washington Monument. Of the "National Christmas tree" goes back to an almost 100-year-old tradition: President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in the park for the first time in 1923. Of the "National Christmas tree" has moved with the times: since 2013 he even has his own Twitter account.

2. London: The Viking

Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square: The tree is a gift from the Norwegians to the British – as a thank you for their work in the Second World War. (Source: Zuma Press / imago images)

The history of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square dates back to World War II. It is a gift from the Norwegians to the British as a thank you for their support in the war. This year the tree is 90 years old and 25 meters high. Until January 6th, it will enlighten and warm the hearts of Londoners.

1. Dortmund: The giant

Christmas tree Dortmund: A total of 1,700 spruce trees are used in the largest Christmas tree in the world. (Source: Friedrich Stark / imago images)

Berlin, Dresden & Munich: The ten most popular Christmas markets in Germany At Christmas time: In these cities you can travel by bus and train for free during Advent Note opening times: Christmas Eve – you can still shop here

This eye-catcher is on Hansaplatz in Dortmund: around 45 meters high, weighs 40 tons and is made from 1,700 spruce trees from the Sauerland. This is the largest Christmas tree in the world. It is decorated with more than 48,000 lights, luminous ornaments and an angel weighing 200 kilos on the top. The construction of the XXL Christmas tree takes four weeks before it is switched on by the mayor. Then it will be the largest Christmas tree in the world again.

Sources used: dpa news agencyReiseredaktion srtOwn researchAdditional sourcesShow less sources

The nights with the most falling stars are just around the corner. Hobby astronomers will soon be able to observe one of the brightest currents – the Geminid swarm – with the naked eye.

On certain nights, a particularly large number of the skydivers are out and about. If you want to entrust a Christmas wish to a falling star during Advent, you can look forward to the coming nights: The annual Geminids meteor shower has reached the earth, and now the nights with the most falling stars are ahead.

Sky-gazers can then see up to 120 shooting stars from the famous swarm whizzing across the pre-Christmas sky every hour – provided the sky is clear.

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