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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’



 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12, Bible

One of my fondest memories of growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania was the Christmas Eve service at the local church. Some years my parents and I would volunteer to set up the luminaries in the church parking lot before the service. Luminaries are nothing more than small paper lunch bags filled about a quarter of the way with sand to weigh them down and hold a candle that is placed in the center. The luminaries were placed along the sidewalks leading up to the church to form a procession of lights – like the North Star leading the way into the church. At the entrance greeters welcomed you to the service with a hand shake and white candle complete with a cardboard ring to protect your hand from dripping wax.

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

In my memory, the entire service was conducted by candlelight but in reality, I think that it was probably toward the end of the service that the lights were turned off. The church fell silent as each light was distinguished and church elders moved from pew to pew lighting the end row member’s candle who then passed on the light to the other church members in the row. At the very end of the service, we all sang “Silent Night” a cappella by candle light. The significance of one flame illuminating the entire sanctuary was not lost on me, not even as a young child and contributing to the warmth of candles and the anticipation of presents sure to come was an awesome feeling  of oneness with everyone around me and with it a deep sense of inner peace.

When you move abroad, or simply find yourself far away from loved ones during the holidays, tis-the-season can accentuate all the more your aloneness, making this time of year quite challenging. Fortunately for me, Austria is world class when it comes to conveying Christmas in its Ur-sense. Or at least what I think that must be.

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Besides the shops and just about everything else being closed from noon on Christmas Eve until midnight on December 27, and not Santa baby but the Christkind (Christ child) bringing the presents here, and this being the birth place of that soul-piercing carol “Silent Night”, many of Austria’s holidays traditions are illuminated by candlelight. And there’s something about candlelight – the dancing shadows cast on walls, the sweet wax smell, the softening of voice levels to intimate whispers – that soothes the soul.

At the beginning of advent, advent wreaths are sold at every market and most grocery stores and each week, another candle is lit. Traditional Christmas figures carved in wood are surrounded by candles and the rising heat from the flames turn the wooden propeller on top. Candles adorn Christmas tree branches and on Christmas eve, the ringing of a small bell summons the children to the candle lit tree (which has been brought and decorated by the Christ child) where the family gathers around to sing Christmas carols and exchange presents.

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

But one of the traditions I love the very most is a relatively new one (started in 1986)– and this is the tradition of lighting all the candles of the home on Christmas Eve from a single flame from Bethlehem — the Light of Peace (more also in a previous post). How fitting that the tradition of the Light of Peace started in Upper Austria – the same place that Silent Night was penned. The Light of Peace stems from a candle burning in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus. Every year at the end of November, the flame is brought to Austria by a child specially selected for the task. This year, due to the current turmoil in the region, a 9-year-old girl, Ihab Msleh, who comes from an Arabic-Christian family in Bethlehem, lit the candle that was then transported back to Vienna on an Austrian Airlines flight into the care of 10-year-old Niklas Dumhart from St. Georgen an der Gusen. It’s Niklas’ job to spread the light throughout Austria and even other parts of Europe. So far, this year’s Light of Peace has been shared with all of Austria, 30 European countries, many parts of the US (so glad to see Texas now joining in, if only Florida and NC could get on board), some parts of South America and many other places throughout the world. On December 16, Niklas even traveled to the Vatican to share the Light of Peace with Pope Franciskus.

On Christmas Eve, local organizations set up a lantern or candles burning with flames lit from the Light of Peace and make the flame available to everyone in the community. Bearing lanterns from home, folks visit these stations and light their own candles from the Lights of Peace. Once they return home, they then light all the Christmas candles in their homes from the lantern bearing the Light of Peace. So the flame that came from Bethlehem illuminates its glow of peace, candle-by-candle, throughout Austria and the rest of world.

No matter what your religion, creed, nationality, or general state of existence, you have to admit that there is something awe-inspiringly beautiful about one little flame illuminating so many homes in the spirit of peace, joy, love and (hopefully) happiness.


Now grab a lantern and head out to light your candle by the flame of the Light of Peace – locations for Vienna and the USA given below. 


All „manned“ train stations throughout Austria
Available on 24 December beginning at 8 am at all „manned“ Austrian train stations.

The following Vienna Cemeteries: Baumgarten, Feuerhalle Simmering, Hernals, Hietzing, Ottakring, Neustift, Südwest, Stammersdorf Central and Vienna Central (Wiener Zentral Friedhof)
Available on 24 December, 8:30 am till noon

1. District

Boyscout Troop 16 – Schotten, Schotten Church, Freyung 6, 1010 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 10:00 am till 2 pm

3. District

Austrian Red Cross
Nottendorfer Gasse 21, 2. floor, room 223, 1030 Vienna
Directions: U3 Station Erdberg, Exit Nottendorfer Gasse. Please use the main entrance Tel:  +43 50 144
When: 24 December 2015 from 08:00 am till 4 pm

4. District

Blood Donation Center oft he Austrian Red Cross (Blutspendezentrale des Österreichischen Roten Kreuzes), Blutspendezentrale, Wiedner Hauptstraße 32, 1040 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 08:00 am till 1 pm

6. District

Boyscout Troop 17/47 , Mariahilfer Church, Barnabitengasse, 1060 Vienna

Light of Peace - Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

Light of Peace – Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

When: 24 December 2015 from 4 pm till 5 pm

11. District

Boyscout Troop 73 , Evangelic Arc (Evangelische Arche), Svetelskystraße 7, 1110 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 3 pm till 4 pm

12. District

Boyscout Troop 10/48 , Khleslplatz 24 und Tivoligasse 20, 1120 Vienna
When: 24 December 4 pm till 5 pm, Children’s Service, Khleslplatz 24, and 11 pm Midnight service, Tivoligasse 20

13. District

Living without Barriers (OHNE BARRIEREN LEBEN), Hietzinger Hauptstraße 22, 1130 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 09:00 am till 1 pm

23. District

Boyscout Troop 32, Alt-Erlaa, Church Alt-Erlaa
When: 24 December 4 pm – 5 pm


Klosterneuburg City Hall (Klosterneuburg Rathaus):
When: Wednesday, 23 December from 08.30 am until 11.00 am the assembly hall (Aula) of the Rathaus


Light of Peace in the USA 2015 – just click on the map

 Previous posts about the Light of Peace:

Some asides I would like to add:

  1. Austria desperately needs a handy map showing Light of Peace locations like the US has. I had to scavenge the internet to figure out where it is. Aren’t there any tech-savvy boy scouts out there who need a badge project?
  2. A nice family tradition is to give a child a candle at birth that can be used in religious celebrations (baptisms,etc) and then when the child grows up and ties the knot, each person’s birth candle can be used to light the one wedding candle which can then be used to light the candle of their child.
  3. If your community has no Light of Peace, take the helm and organize one for next year and spread the light. You’ll be happy you did and get a badge in my book.


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Vienna gets lots of visitors in December and that’s not too surprising because the city is beautiful this time of year. Here’s the top 10 things you’ll want to do and see while here in December to get the most of your visit.

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    1. Visit a Christmas Market. With over 20 markets to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a list of Vienna Christmas markets from my 2014 post with links. Note that the special events have probably changed but otherwise the markets and descriptions usually stay pretty consistent year for year.
    2. Indulge in some Glühwein while at that market. For your own Glühwein recipe – check out my “How to make Glühwein” post.

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

    3. Have lunch at Cafe Central – they have what’s called a “Menü” option on the weekdays and it is usually a soup and a main meal consisting of a meat or non-meat dish and rather reasonably priced. Be sure to make reservations or you might have to wait for a table or not get one at all. You can write to them for reservations at the email address on the Cafe Central website but reservations are only valid if you receive a confirmation email (usually pretty quick response time).
    4. See the mosaic of the Last Supper. Do this after your visit to Cafe Central, since the Minoritenkirche with the mosaic is a two minute walk up the road from the Cafe.  More about this amazing piece of art work in my post: “Napoleon, Jesus and the Free Masons: the Last Supper in Vienna.”
    5. Have an authentic Austrian dinner in one of Vienna’s oldest restaurants – the Griechenbeisl. Again, reservations are a necessity. Check out my post about the Greichenbeisl restaurant entitled, “If the Walls Could Speak – A Schnitzel with Turkish Invaders, Beethoven, Twain and Johnny Cash.”

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

    6. Try a Krapfen. Don’t know what that is? Kind of like a apricot jam filled doughnut – more on the subject here: “Krapfen – Getting Fat in Honor of Fat Tuesday.”
    7. Definitely, definitely, visit a Coffeehouse to catch your breath, read a newspaper, discuss the world, and maybe even have some coffee. These two posts should help you with that: This one has a list of choice coffeehouses: “Vienna and her Coffeehouses – Sit Back and Smell the Coffee,” and this one describes a bit of the coffeehouse culture: “Place to Visit in Vienna – Coffeehouses.”
    8.  Digest some art and see some museums. Check out my post “Things to See in Vienna – Art Museums and Street Art.”

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

    9. Visit the Austrian National Treasury and check out some amazing artifacts like the legendary holy lance/ Spear of Destiny. More about that on my post:”The Holy Lance (“Spear of Destiny”) & the Power to Rule the World.”
    10. Take a stroll through the park of the Schönbrunn Castle and be sure to hike the hill behind the castle up to the gorgeous Gloriette where you can have a hot cocoa and if you’re timing is right, listen to some live piano music.
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Vienna’s Christmas Markets 2014 – Tis the Season for Glühwein and Cheer!

Here it is – KC’s List of Vienna’s Christmas Markets

Cause Jolly Ol’ St. Nick do we have Christmas in this town!

Not able to swing by between now in Christmas – poor you — but don’t fret – you can always bring a bit of the Christmas Market home to you by brewing up some Glühwein (see “How to” of Glühwein post:

In Vienna? Then saddle up your sleigh and start making your rounds because there is a lot of Glühwein to be kosten here (or go for some Punsch if you dare). Now, if anyone asks, what’s the appeal of your evening market outings, act all Christkindl like and claim it’s all about finding just the right present for that special someone. The Viennese will give you a knowing nod cause they know why one is hanging out at the glittery tinsel strewn mistel toe stands this time of year and it is NOT to buy another beeswax candle.

Christmas Market

Christmas at Maria Thereseian Platz – Museum of Natural Hist. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

 Meet up with friends at one or — what the heck – all 21 or so markets and 1131 stands– so many choices and so little time and you have oh so many friends!

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

And if you don’t there are plenty of potentials all hanging out at these markets all over the city. Wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt. Let’s face it. You could very likely be just one Glühwein away from your lifelong very best friend. Or two. Or three.

Important – the place to meet at the market is none other than the Glühwein stand. Suggest somewhere else and you are a hopeless foreigner. But same rule here as for the Sturm outing (see Sept. blog post: – no singing until the Austrians whip out their lighters and break out into the first verse of Stille Nacht (they rarely know the second). Once that happens, Unsilent your Night till the Fiakers roll home (or return).

 Where’s Christkindl? An indoor market? Candle light parade? Krampus? Abba?

Baked Goods

Baked Goods

Middle Ages market? Gospel music? Who’s got the Llama? Check it all out here:

Altes AKH (Allgemeines Krankenhaus) – Old General Hospital Adventmarket
Old AKH, Alserstr/Spitalgasse, Universitätscampus – Courtyard (Hof) 1
Start: Nov 15  Mo – Fr 2pm – 10pm; Sat, Sun, Holidays 11 am – 10 pm
Public: take U 2 to Schottentor and then tram 43 or 44 to Lange Gasse; trams 33 or 5 to Lange Gasse; Bus 13A to Skodagasse
Fri, Nov 28: KRAMPUS! @ 6 pm. Don’t miss ’em. Followed by Ron Glaser & Band at 7 pm.

Am Hof Adventmarket
Art & Antiques Market
Next to the Golden Quartier
Start: 14 Nov daily Mon – Thurs 11am – 10 pm; weekends: 10 am – 10 pm
As they say in German “Klein aber fein”
Public: U3 to Herrengasse, 2 minute walk over Haarhof and Irisgasse; U1 to Stephansplatz then 10 minute lovely walk over Graben towards Meinl, then the Bognergasse; U2 to Schottentor then walk up Schottengasse, past (or first at) Freyung Christmas Market, further up road and hit Am Hof.

Am Hof Christmas Market

Am Hof Christmas Market

Belvedere Castle Adventmarket
At the Upper Belvedere directly in front of the pond
Start: Nov 21; Mo-Fr 11-9pm and Sat & Sun 10 – 9pm
Opening: Nov 21 @ 6 pm Babara Helfgott & Police Brass
Public: U1 to Südtirolerplatz, tram D to stop Schloss Belvedere, 18/O stop Südbahnhof, or buses 13A or 69A Stop Südbahnhof (south train station)

Columbusplatz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1100 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 28,
Daily 9 am – 9 pm, 12 stands, 2 food stands, (Dec 24: 9 am – 4 pm)

Favoritenstraße / Quellenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1110 Vienna
Start: Nov 14

Ornament Stand at Christmas Market in Vienna

Ornaments at Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Favoriten (Pedestrian Zone) Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1100 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 14

Franz Jonas Platz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
Franz Jonas Platz 1, 1210 Vienna
Start: Nov 14
weekdays 9 am – 9 pm, Dec 24: 9 am – 3 pm

Freyung Adventmarket
“Altwiener Christkindlmarkt” (Old Vienna Christ Child Market)
Start: Nov. 21, daily 10 am – 9 pm
Celebration at opening on Friday, Nov 22 at 5 pm.
Featuring the longest manger scene – a 46 meter long reproduction of a manger painting by Josef Ritter von Fuehrich (1800 – 1876)  – a paper cut out of the manger scene can be purchased at Stand Nr 51
Dec 5 – Nikolaus is visiting so if you haven’t been too naughty, I’d go. And on Nov 29, learn how to make an advent wreath during the craft classes held every weekend from 10 am – 3:30 pm
Public: subway: U2 to Schottentor and walk down Schottengasse into town, or U3 to Herrengasse and walk past Café Central towards Schottengasse,  or bus 1A or 2A,

Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Adventmarket
Arsenal 18, 1030 Vienna
From Dec 6 – Dec 8  Hours 10 am – 6 pm
Highlight: Middle Ages Christmas Market
Public: trams 18, D, O, Buses 13A, 69A, Subways U1 (Südtirolerplatz) or U3 (Schlachthausgasse) or Express Train (Schnellbahn) to station Südbahnhof Address and Info How to Get to Heeresgeschichtliches Museum via Public

Freyung Christmas Market

Freyung Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Hirschstetten – Garden and Glass House of the Vienna City Gardens Adventmarket
“Christmas in the Alps” (This is a market I’ve never been to but will try to visit this year — sounds cool) Lots of organic foods – cheese, honey, Apfelmost, raspberry vinegar…
In the warm cozy glass houses of the flower gardens of Hirschstetten
Flower Gardens Hirschstetten, South Entrance, Quadenstrasse 15; North entrance: Oberfelgasse across from O Nr. 41
Start: as of 20 Nov, Thurs-Sun 10-8 pm
Public: subway U1 to Kagraner Platz and then Bus 22A 10 minutes to Hischenstetten, Süßenbrunner Str

Karlskirche Advent Market
Resselpark, 1040 Vienna
Arts and crafts
This year’s motto: “Fiery celebration” Stand after stand in front of the always lovely Karlskirche (
Start:  21. Nov, daily from noon – 8 pm
Highlight: On Friday, Dec 13 at 5 pm they will have a candle light parade through the market to mark Santa Lucia Fest
They’ve got Llamas, folks! Fri – Sun, 2 pm – 5:30 pm Amadeus and Diego await your Llama love.
Public: U4/U1/U2 >Karlsplatz, exit Resslpark, Trams 1 & 62, Buses 4A, 59A or walk from trams 1,2,or D from Kärntner Ring, Oper or bus 3A

Kirche (Church) Maria Hilf – (neighborhood market)
Mariahilferstrasse 55 , 1060 Vienna
Start: Nov 15, daily: 9 am – 8 pm

K.u.K. Christmas Market
Michaelerplatz, 1010 Vienna
Starts: Nov 15

Ornaments at Christmas Market

Ornaments at Christmas Market

Landstraßer Hauptstraße near Invalidenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1030 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Mahlerstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1010 Vienna – beside the Opera by the Ringstrasse Gallerie
Start: Nov 14, daily: 11 am – 9 pm

Maria Theresien Platz  Adventmarket
Between the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum)
Start: Nov 19 Daily 11am – 10 pm.
Public: U2 or U3 stations Volkstheater or Museumsquartier, trams along the Ring D, J, 1, 2 as well as 46 and 49 – Station: Dr. Karl Renner Ring or Bus 2A to Burgring, or 4A to Dr. Karl Renner Ring

Meidlinger Hauptstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1120 Vienna
As of Nov 15

Museumsquartier Adventmarket
Winter in the MQ
Museumsquartier 1, 1070 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 6, Mon – Fri: 4 pm – 11 pm; Sat, Dun, Holidays: 2pm – 11 pm
Public: subway U2 to Museumsquartier

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Pink Christmas in Vienna NEW! FIRST YEAR!
(Queer, Pink & Proud)
Kettenbrückengasse, 1060 Vienna (Naschmarkt)
In honor of World Aids Day in cooperation with Aids Help Vienna
Start: Dec 1 – 24, 26- 31.
Mon – Fri 2 pm – 10 pm, Sat 10 am – 10 pm, Sun noon – 10 pm
Dec 24: 10 am – 6 pm, Dec 31: 2 pm – midnight
Public: subway U4 to Kettenbrückengasse
7 pm – Opening Show under the Motto: “We are Family!”

Prater / Riesenrad Adventmarket
“Prater Rocks”
In front of the Giant Ferris Wheel – Live Shows and Hot Punch
Every Thurs – Sat starting at 7 pm – live concerts with gospel, pop and soul music.
Sun, Nov 30: KRAMPUS! @ 5 – 6:30 pm. Don’t miss ’em “Perchtenlauf”: “Ybbstaler Schluchtenteufel” 
Start: Nov 22, Mo-Fr 12 – 10 pm, weekends 11 – 10 pm
Public: U2 or U1 to Praterstern

Rathaus Christmas Market

Rathaus – Vienna’s biggest Christmas Market

Rathaus / Vienna City Hall Adventmarket
Highlights: See Vienna’s biggest market and official Christmas Tree – this year from the South Tyrol – over 140 years old and 28 meters high
Start: As of Nov 15, Sun – Thurs 10 am – 9:30 pm, Fri & Sat: 10 am – 10 pm
More Highlights: Lighting of the Christmas Tree: Saturday, November 15 at 5:30 pm with over 1000 energy efficient lights.
Starting Nov 17, Vienna’s high society will be reading Christmas stories at 6 pm almost every day at the “Himmelsbühne” (Heaven Stage).
And even more Highlights: The Christkindl (Christ Child – blonde girl) will be present Thurs – Sun 4 pm – 7 pm;
Christmas Post office with Christmas stamps for letters
Public: trams 1 or D directly in front of Rathaus or take U2 subway to Schottentor or Rathaus and walk over

Schloss Hof Adventmarket
(A bit outside of Vienna in Gänserndorf)
Over 100 stands, musical concerts Saturdays at 5pm
Entrance: 5€ adults, 2€ kids or family tickets for 12 €
Start: 22. Nov.; weekends only, Saturdays 10am – 8pm; Sundays, 10am – 6pm
Public: trains and buses – see info in German here:

Krampus and KC

Krampus and KC @ Schloss Neugebaeude in 2013

Schloss Neugebäude Adventmarket
Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1, 1110 Vienna
Thurs Dec 4 2 pm – 8pm; Fri Dec 5 2 pm – 8 pm, Sat Dec 6 2 pm – 9 pm and Sun & Mom Dec 7 & 8 10 am – 8 pm

Krampus misunderstanding - he thinks KC's been naughty

Krampus misunderstanding – he thinks KC’s been naughty – 2013 at Schloss Neugebaeude

Highlight: Saturday, Dec 6 at 7:00 pm KRAMPUS and they are ready to hunt you down (  //ABBA show Monday Dec 8 @ 4 pm “Christmas Program”
Public: subway U3 until Simmering and then with the bus 73A to Hörtengasse

Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Savoyenstrasse 2, 1160 Vienna
Kids can also ice skate next to the castle
Start: as of Nov 14, Mon – Thurs: 4pm – 9pm, Fri: 3pm – 9pm Sat, Sun (Holidays) 11am – 9pm
Public: bus 46B or 146B

Schönbrunn Christmas Market

Schönbrunn Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Schönbrunn Castle  Adventmarket
Beautifully situated in the front of Schönbrunn castle.
On exhibit – 220 mangers carved from wood, Christ Child (Christkindl) from Nov 22 – Dec 26
Start: 22 Nov; Daily 10am – 9pm
Public: Subway U4/green line to Schönbrunn stop (for park) or Hietzing stop (for zoo)

Spittelberg Adventmarket
For crafts lovers and everyone else. One of my all-time favorite markets. The cobblestone lanes and little houses just feel like you are on the scene of Christmas train set. More than 100 stands and over 25 years old.
Start: Nov 14, Mo – Thurs 2pm – 9pm; Fridays 2 pm – 9:30 pm, Sat 10 am – 9:30 pm and Sundays and Holidays 10 am – 9 pm.
Public: tram 49, subway U2 to Volkstheater, bus 49A

Stephansplatz Christmas Market
Right beside Steffl, it doesn’t get more Christmasy than that.
Nov 15, daily from 11am – 9pm
Public: U1 / U3 Stephansplatz

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Stift (Monastery) Schotten  Adventmarket
Breitenleer Strasse 247, 1220 Vienna
Start: Nov 30

Türkenschanzpark Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1180 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 14

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Flame of Bethlehem spreads light throughout the world – a relatively new Austrian tradition is born and shared

Spreading light as a symbol of peace.

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Unto You A Child…
For over 17 years, a child, typically from Upper Austria (also the birth place of Silent Night, by the way) has traveled to Bethlehem to light a lantern from a flame burning at the Star of Nativity Church in the cave that marks the place of birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The Austrian child then flies with the explosion-proof lantern to Vienna. During a holy mass (this year held in the Vienna Votive Church on December 14), the flame is shared with children delegates throughout Austria and Europe, who then transport the Bethlehem

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

light back to their hometowns. On December 24, on Christmas Eve, the flame is set out in public places such as boy scout organizations, fire departments and red cross stations and shared with the general public.  Every year Austrians pilgrim with lanterns in hand to the flame brought from Bethlehem to light their candles for Christmas celebrations. The “Light of Peace” or “Bethlehem Light” lanterns are then used to light the candles throughout the household for the Christmas Eve celebrations.

Send Forth Your Light (Psalm 43:3)
Originally the Christmas ritual was confined to Austria, however in 1989, the boy scouts picked up the tradition and arranged to share the flame of peace with other boy scout troops throughout Europe. In 1991, the light traveled eastward under the name “Bethlehem Light.” The Slovakian boy scouts pick up the

Advent candle

Advent candle

light in Vienna and then pass it on from Slovakia over the border to boy scouts in Poland where it continues on to Lithuania, Belorussia, Ukraine and Russia. In 1995 with Austria’s entry into the EU, the light first traveled to Strasbourg, where it has been transferred ever since via the European Parliament to over 30 other European nations.

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

Turning Darkness Into Light
The Light of Peace from Bethlehem tradition was started by the (Upper) Austrian Public Television Station (ORF) as part of an initiative to collect donations for charities.

Let there Be Peace on Earth
In 2001, because of the unstable conditions in Israel, children from Israel brought the Light of Peace to Austria and during Advent the flame was sent to NYC where it burned at Ground Zero in remembrance of 9/11. In 2012, again because of the conflict in the Middle East and lack of security, rather than sending a child to fetch the flame, an Arabic child transported the light to Tel Aviv where it was then flown to Austria.

See another post from 2015 about the Light of Peace complete with where and when in the US and Austria you can fetch your Light of Peace: Illuminating your Christmas Celebration with a Flame from Jesus’ Birthplace – Light of Peace/Friedenslicht.

Check out the website with more English info: Peace Light Website and efforts to introduce the tradition to the US. Print This Post

Where to find your Light of Peace in the USA
A very cool map shows where to get your Light of Peace in the States: Peace Light MapTexas and North Carolina – where are you guys?! Get gemütlich and someone driving home for the Holidays from the north, spread some light southward!

Birthcave in Bethlehem

Church of Nativity Cave – Birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth

Where to find your Light of Peace in Austria
The Austrian Boy Scouts Website lists the locations and times when they are offering the light of Peace on December 24:

On Friday, December 20, 2013, the Peace of Light traveled on the IC 543 train to the St. Pölten Train Station where it was then distributed to all the train stations throughout the country and will be available to the public of December 24.

Available in Vienna at several of the city’s cemeteries:

All ORF state studios (Austrian Public TV stations):

Light of Peace - Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

Light of Peace – Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

In Vienna at the following Red Cross Offices: Blood donation center on Dec 24 from 8 am – 1 pm, Wiedner Hauptstr 32, 1040 Vienna, and 8 am – 4 pm at Nottendorfer Gasse 21, 2nd floor,room 223, 1030 Vienna, U3 Erdberg (subway station), exit Nottendorfer Gasse. Use main entrance and follow signs to “Friedenslicht.”

In Vienna at the Fire Department Am Spitz, Weisselgasse 3, 1210Vienna, from 9.00am until noon.

Candle in St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna

Candle in St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna

Light of Peace from Bethlehem

Light of Peace of Bethlehem Poster

Christmas Tree Candle

Christmas Tree Candles are lit from the Flame of Bethlehem