Bild: mm Kantonspolizei BL
Bild: mm Kantonspolizei BL
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Local News Summary of December, 26th

  • Car catches fire on motorway
  • How Baslers celebrated Christmas in the old days

Car catches fire on motorway

A driver has been reported to the prosecution office after his car caught fire on the M2 motorway in Muttenz in the early hours of Monday morning. The car had been heading towards Bern/Lucerne when it caught fire at around 3.45am. By the time the fire fighters arrived, the car was engulfed in flames. The driver was able to escape uninjured. The fire crew was able to quickly extinguish the blaze but the car had to be towed away. According to early investigations by Baselland police, the fire had started in the engine and a technical reason is the most likely cause. The driver was breathalysed and gave a blood-alcohol reading of 0.69 mg/l. He had to hand over his licence was reported to the prosecution office of Baselland.

How Baslers celebrated Christmas in the old days

Christmas is a tradition which has slowly changed over time, mostly without anyone really noticing. We love to think about our favourite memories about Christmas Eve and its customs in the olden days. It’s still dark in Basel. Some street lights shed a gloomy light onto the streets, while snowflakes dance through the air. Men and women in uniforms are lining up, and at the very back of the row is a lantern on a stick. Nobody else is in the streets at 6 o’clock in the morning. The carefully decorated Christmas trees are standing next to the chimneys. Everybody’s sleeping; only the Salvation Army corps is in the street. They start to sing a Christmas carol and begin marching. The Baslers gently get up, waking up their children so they don’t miss the singers. Quick! To the windows! The uniforms have already disappeared around the corner, but their voices are still echoing around the walls of the houses, softened by the snow which lies like fine sugar over the city. It’s Christmas a few decades ago.

“Yes, people used to love to get up early in those days,“ Gerhard Wyss, from the Salvation Army corps Basel, said. “Today we don’t do this anymore so nobody gets woken up. Instead we celebrate Christmas with a service and everybody’s invited to it.“ Only the memory remains of the singing army. A wonderful tradition which doesn’t exist anymore.

Dream of a white Christmas

“In the old days we had more snow and in the afternoon we went walking with family and neighbours in the forest,“ a barfi-reader remembered. Everyone, even adults, hopes for a White Christmas every year. But most of the time, this wish has to be postponed to the next year. Also in the old days, Basel covered in a white blanket wasn’t a picture one could see very often. But when it was snowing it was really snowing, as we can see on pictures from the archive of the website “Verschwundenes Basel“ (“The Basel that disappeared“). Around Christmas Baslers took their skis from the cellar and slid on them through the streets. It was possible to go on a shopping trip on a Friday on skis: Centralbahnplatz, which today is a thoroughfare for trams, wasn’t such a strongly frequented traffic hub as we know it today. It could be crossed by car – if at all. Thick snow transformed the square into a winter wonderland. It was therefore understandable if tourists arriving in town thought they were already in the Alps!

The bell of baby Jesus

After the Christmas feast children had to go back to their rooms. Baby Jesus was coming and if he was spotted by them, he would take his presents back. Therefore the children sat in another room, well dressed, since it was a holiday. Did Baby Jesus receive the letter on which all the wishes were written down? What did Jesus look like? And was he the same age as the children? So many questions in the little heads while waiting for the bell to ring – because baby Jesus always rang the bell when the presents could be opened. The children loved to imagine that they had seen at least a golden foot as Jesus escaped out the window. Then this heavenly sound was heard and the children could go back to the living room. The Christmas tree was illuminated, the candles were burning, and the maybe even had some sparklers. Under the tree the many colourful presents which were wanted so much by the little ones. But at first they loudly sang carols like “Oh Tannenbaum“, “Stille Nacht“ or “Stärn vo Bethlehem“. Then they could open their presents. And Baby Jesus really had thought about everything!