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Ansbach Garrison Soldiers, families, celebrate German holiday traditions with Rothenburg neighbors.
(Photo: U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Public Affairs, Pamela Portland)

U.S. Army Ansbach Garrison commander Col. Benjamin Jones, accompanied by the Ansbach Elementary School children’s choir and scores of Ansbach Soldiers and family members, arrived in the old town square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on the evening of Dec. 7 to participate in the city’s Christmas festivities.

Soldiers and families from the Ansbach community were again officially invited to take part in the construction of an assigned window, part of the giant festive Advent calendar the city creates each December. Rothenburg Mayor Dieter Kölle made a special invitation to American service members and their families to attend the festivities as he opened the giant calendar window during the annual “Reiterlesmarkt” Christmas market.

An Advent calendar is a special holiday calendar popular throughout Europe with windows that families use to count down the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Each day a new window or door is opened, often revealing a holiday illustration, or including a small toy or chocolate bonbon to count down one-by-one the days until Christmas Eve.

Each day at sundown during the Reiterlesmarkt a numbered window is opened on the giant Advent calendar which appears on the side of the Rothenburg city hall while music is provided by a traditional German brass band. The Ansbach Elementary School children’s choir was added to the market’s musical program and contributed songs and carols to the evening, to the applause of shoppers and guests.

Thanking Mayor Kölle afterwards Jones said, “For our Soldiers and military families, the holidays are a joyous time, and your invite to share the holiday is especially gracious and appreciated. This is exactly the kind of consideration that has made our German-American partnership in Europe so enduring.”

The popular annual market takes its name from the Rothenburg “Reiterle” — a figure plucked from medieval legend whose arrival is the highlight of the market — who was considered to be a messenger from another world who flies through the night, taking with him the souls of the dead each winter.

The Christmas market in Rothenburg is one of the most beloved in Germany and has been regularly held and celebrated since the 15th century.

The city offers special guided tours around the market and through the narrow city streets of the old town each day until Dec. 24, and the Franconian version of Santa Claus, ‘Pelzmärtel’, makes regular visits to the marketplace to greet visitors and spread holiday cheer.

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