December 2017

- The Nativity Scene at Santa Cruz -


It was just after Christmas. Madeira, the island in the Atlantic Ocean, was lapped by the heat of the Gulf Stream. One could not feel the winter: the sky was a cloudless blue, the air was spring-like, the rocky landscape was a colourful mixture of flowers in the rich green. Quite different from Germany, where at the same time raging cold prevailed. There the whole country lay hidden under dense grey cloud cover in dim light and sleet chased people into their homes. But not only the beautiful weather on Madeira had surprised us: the villages impressed us with a lush Christmas flair that we did not know from home. Fairy lights stretched across streets and many houses were decorated with colourful garlands. Finally, in Santa Cruz, we discovered a nativity scene that I was instantly attracted to. It stood in the middle of flowerbeds in a square. The figures were life-size and beautifully designed, the stable was airy and decorated with many red-flowered poinsettias. “I cannot help it, I must stay here and paint,” I said to my husband Klaus and sat down in the shade of an old tree on a park bench.

“Isn’t it beautiful, our nativity scene?” I looked up surprised from my painting pad when I was spoken to in German. “You can believe me. Actually, I have been living in Germany for 21 years, but I always spend Christmas here in Santa Cruz,” the woman chattered happily and sat down next to me. “Because of my family, but mostly because of the weather. The winter in Germany simply does not let me get into the Christmas spirit. Everything is too sad. I need colours, light, warmth. After all, Christmas is a happy celebration, isn’t it?” I nodded, smiling – and she liked that. She put her hand on my shoulder. “Come to Madeira next Christmas and celebrate with us, you’ll definitely like it. The weather is guaranteed to be wonderful.” – “Oh, I’m not sure that will happen, I’m afraid,” I replied. Until that point, we had always spent the holidays with my mother in Hesse. “I really enjoy travelling but at Christmas I do not feel any desire to go abroad. Quite the contrary. I do not think it’s that bad when it's cold and unpleasant outside. Then it’s all the more warm and pleasant at home.” – “Which is probably how people celebrate Christmas in Alaska, is it not?” Mused my new friend at the thought of the cold German Christmas. – “Well, we’ll both probably never find out, but there will certainly be a nativity scene there too, maybe just different from the one here.”


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