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1 LexiLine 2008 Epiphany : Star Singers - Sternsinger - of Europe

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  • Andis Kaulins
    The Sternsinger (star singers) dressed as the three Biblical Magi (kings, wise men) were just at our door this
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 6, 2008
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      The Sternsinger (star singers) dressed as the three Biblical Magi (kings, wise men) were just at our door this afternoon on a bright sunny Sunday here in Germany and we thus thought that we would tell you something about them, because they represent a seldom seen side of the low-key but still fundamentally deep strength of Christian tradition in Europe, a tradition which is surely rooted in ancient astronomical belief.

      More than 500000 children are underway as "star singers" (Sternsinger) at this time of year (predominantly today, January 6, Epiphany) in the German-speaking nations of Europe, i.e. not only (but predominantly) in Germany, as also in Austria and Switzerland.

      Epiphany as a Christian religious feast most certainly first marked the nativity or baptism of Christ, although the tradition may go back to even more ancient astronomical celebrations.

      The star singers are sponsored by the local Catholic churches and this year in Germany are underway under the motto "Sternsinger für die Eine Welt" (star singers for one world).The star singers ring doorbells at households all across the land (primarily in Catholic areas), and when those doors are opened - it is considered bad luck to send the star singers away without opening doors for them - the star singers then sing songs of faith at those doorsteps in order by collection to raise money for needy children around the world. Below are some photos of the star singers:


      A 2004 AP photo from Deutsche Welle



      A photo of star singers in 2007 at the doorstep of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous State
      A blessing is written in chalk by the star singers on the front door of the household, marking the current year, together with the initials of the three Biblical kings (or wise men):
      20*C+M+B*08

      See the blessing to the left, wirtten in chalk on a door this year 2008.

      It is also possible in the course of development of this custom that the initials CMB - always in that order - either initially or subsequently meant Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates generally as "may Christ bless this house".
    • Bruno HANZEN
      Dear Andis, your post reminds me of a similar custom in the region of the Amblève (Amel) and Ourthe rivers (not far from Spa, eastern Belgium). I can at least
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 7, 2008
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        Dear Andis,

        your post reminds me of a similar custom in the region of the Amblève
        (Amel) and Ourthe rivers (not far from Spa, eastern Belgium). I can at
        least attest it in Sprimont and Sougné-Remouchamps.
        At this time of the year, the children would go from house to house,
        singing in Walloon language (Roman, with some germanic influence). At
        each house, they receive some treats (a bit similar to Halloween).
        They sing something like:

        "Madame, dji vins heyi
        po veui çou qu'vos dinrîz
        vos z'avez fait des waf
        vos m'les léryz sayi.."

        Approximate translation to English:

        Mrs., I am coming to "heyi" (can't translate this verb)
        to see what you could give me
        you have prepared waffles
        you could let me taste...

        Unfortunately, this tradition is disappearing, and is replaced by
        Halloween.

        Yours,


        Bruno
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