Germany’s First Lady Elke Büdenbender (60) has valued Christmas in the large family circle for many years. “Since I left home, I’ve almost never celebrated Christmas at home. We always go on Christmas Eve and did our big North Rhine-Westphalia tour,” said the wife of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier German Press Agency in Berlin. “First we go back to my mother-in-law, who is now 93 years old.” There they serve Kasslerbraten with sauerkraut and potatoes, a traditional Christmas meal in Wroclaw, where her mother-in-law originally came from.

Then it’s on to her siblings, to eat together in her father’s apartment, who died two years ago. “Everything is still in its place. It’s very, very nice.” For her, Christmas is a time “where people come together, whether they are believers or not. And this coming together can be very comforting in these dark times for many people”. She is therefore glad that there are numerous organizations that offer get-togethers for people who live alone around the Christmas season.

However, giving presents to her husband and daughter Merit always takes place the day before Christmas Eve. “That’s very important to us,” said Büdenbender.