Bavarians give Chirst Child thundering salute in centuries-old tradition

The all-male Berchtesgaden Christmas-Shooters association carried out a centuries-old Christmas tradition, by firing guns to salute Chirst Child on Berchtesgaden's mountain on Sunday. Stefan Lang the chairman of a shooters associations described the festive tradition, saying: «On December 17th, exactly one week before Christmas, Christmas Eve, at 3 o'clock, for around a quarter of an hour we... Еще shoot on Lockstein and greet the Christ Child.» He added, saying that: «This began in the 16th century, like the pagan customs around Christmas, to drive away the rough nights and evil spirits. To make room for the Christ Child, for the holy time.» The Berchtesgaden Christmas shooting tradition replaced an older pagan ritual with cowbells and chains. By the 17th century, after rifle-making reached a fine art in Berchtesgaden, marksmen used black powder guns called Handboeller, a hand-held, short-barreled saluting guns to greet Christ Child days before Christmas. In total, there are 17 associations in the Berchtesgaden region. The groups shoot twice a day between December 17 and December 24. The first event is at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) and the second is at 23:30 (22:30 GMT). On most afternoons, only several dozen members participate, however, on Christmas Eve the numbers grow to between 1,500 and 2,000.
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