For the sextons and sacristans in Germany, Christmas Eve will probably mean shoveling snow. They are currently making all the preparations to keep the paths to churches and parish halls clear of ice and snow during the Christmas holidays. Christmas Eve traditionally sees the most attended services of the year.
"We have a mass to do and can hardly keep up at the moment," said Rudolf Schafer of the German Protestant Sextons' Association in Braunschweig. "If you follow the weather forecast, you know what's coming," said Schafer, who serves at the monastery church in Brunswick-Riddagshausen. The German Weather Service in Offenbach has reported snowfall, some of it heavy, for Christmas Eve and Saturday night. Winter maintenance on paths and squares is an additional task that now has to be managed on the side, said Schafer.
Supplies of sand, salt or granules would have to be secured and clearing equipment maintained, the chairman of the sexton's association explained: "Many will now also get volunteer helpers to lend a hand, especially on Christmas Eve. Nobody should fall down and break his legs."
"Get it on a little earlier"
The Catholic sacristans do not fare better these days. Klaus Probst, Chairman of the Working Group of the South German Associations of Sextons, finds "white Christmas not so great". He wants to "get to it a little earlier" on Christmas Eve in order to be ready in time with the necessary preparations for the fair and to have enough time for a possible special mission. It would become really "painful", if between the services it would be about
15 o'clock and in the evening should snow, meant Probst. Because that would actually be the time to celebrate with one's own family.
To the working group of the south German sacristan federations count according to own data approximately 10.000 sacristan in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg. The German Protestant Association of Sextons is made up of twelve regional sexton associations nationwide with about 5.600 church servants. Sextons or sacristans – in some places also called church bailiffs or church workers – ensure the smooth running of church services, official acts and events. They also take care of the maintenance and upkeep of buildings and grounds. Partly they work full-time, partly part-time, partly on an honorary basis.