You will see them again in many villages and towns in the coming days: children and young people carrying a star in front of them, bringing blessings into houses and apartments and collecting donations for needy children all over the world.
Bamberg/Munich (dpa/lby) - A star, incense and blessings for the houses and apartments: In the days surrounding the Epiphany (January 6th), thousands of carol singers are again moving through Bavaria. The Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, opened the Carolinger season on Wednesday by sending out the children and young people in Bad Tölz.
For two years, the children and young people were only able to travel to a limited extent due to the protective measures to contain the corona pandemic. This winter, they can return to people's homes. "Yes, that's really nice," says Eva Russwurm, chairwoman of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) in the Archdiocese of Bamberg.
Archbishop Marx, who was a carol singer himself in his youth, called out to the boys and girls: "Be messengers of a better world." The Sternsinger campaign is the biggest project that children do for children. "We cannot simply give up," said Marx in view of the current numerous challenges such as war and inflation.
The BDKJ organizes carol singers in the dioceses together with the Kindermissionswerk. The aim is to collect money for children in poor countries. Indonesia is the focus country this year.
The diocesan youth pastor of the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising, Richard Greul, observed that the interest and motivation of the children and young people is high: "The impressions I have received from the parishes so far give me hope that many children will take part." After the opening in Bad Tölz, sending out ceremonies are planned in many dioceses in the next few days.
Even Eva Russwurm has not heard of any community in which the campaign cannot start due to too few participants. Many parishes also used social media channels to promote carol singing. Of course - after the corona restrictions, Catholic youth work also has to do some development work again, similar to sports clubs.
While the carol singers usually ring every doorbell, especially in rural areas, in cities there is often the possibility to register through the parishes if you want to have them visit you. But basically the carol singers are non-denominational - a visit is not linked to membership in the Catholic Church. The concern of the carol singers - "bringing blessings and collecting donations for children in need all over the world" - is also relevant beyond the core Catholic community, says Greul.
The carol singer groups traditionally write a blessing on the front door - "C M B", which means: "Christus mansionem benedicat" (Christ bless this house). They also wave a censer in the rooms.
With crowns and cloaks and with the big star they carry in front of them, the carol singers are reminiscent of the astrologers who, according to biblical tradition, visited the baby Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem. Over the centuries, the Magi became the Magi. If a king with black make-up belonged to the group for years, the BDKJ now recommends avoiding such masking: It is believed that the original meaning of the tradition becomes clearer when the children walk as they are: "diversified in their appearance ", is it [called. Rather, those responsible should encourage the children and young people to "come to carol singing as they are".
According to BDKJ information, carol singers in Germany collected 38.56 million euros in donations in 2022. This Christmas season, the motto of the campaign is "Strengthening children, protecting children - in Indonesia and worldwide".