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Veranstaltungen in Berlin: A wie Advent, Z wie Zoff
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum Europäischer Kulturen / Michael Mohr

A for Advent, Y for Yeni yıl ağacı ...

A Christmas ABC

What do the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountain Range), Rovaniemi on the Finnish Arctic Circle and Yiwu in China have in common? They all thrive because of Christmas! Christmas festivities have established themselves on an unparalleled scale. The holiday is now celebrated around the world as a seasonal celebration – regardless of whether or not its celebrants are Christian.

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Museum Europäischer Kulturen

Arnimallee 25 14195  Berlin


Beyond the religious message, the special atmosphere, family focus and the consumptive aspect of the celebration make it particularly appealing in many locations. Known in Germany as the “Fest der Liebe” (celebration of love), Christmas produces high expectations – and likely just as many disappointments. It also leads to exclusions – of those who are alone at Christmas, who can’t afford a special dinner or presents, or who don’t celebrate the holiday for religious or cultural reasons. The Christmas celebration also provides an opportunity to examine diverse areas of social conflict as if under a magnifying glass ‒ for example, the debates about racism, which have been smouldering for many years in the Netherlands with regard to Sinterklaas (Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas)’s companion Zwarte Piet (Black Pete).

Combining a mix of objects from the MEK collection with photographs, music and film, this special exhibition traverses the alphabet to explore light and dark, pop culture and High Mass, protest and humour, all having to do with Christmas. Things that are typically associated with Christmas, such as Advent calendars and Christmas pyramids, are displayed alongside current music videos, Hollywood films and selfies. This array illuminates quite diverse themes, including N for Nachhaltigkeit (sustainability), citing the example of Christmas mass production in the large Chinese city of Yiwu, F for Fernsehen (television) as a ritualised family custom during the holidays, and also T for Tradition, which can be observed very differently.

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