German Santas hope to bring cheer despite masks

·1 min read

BERLIN (Reuters) - A group of Germans dressed as Santa and angels who rent themselves out over the Christmas period gathered in Berlin on Saturday, keen to spread joy and practice their "Ho-ho-hos" even though they have to wear masks.

Most years, several hundred "Rent-a-Santa" meet at the beginning of the Christmas season in Germany, but this year just a few dozen got together, keeping their distance outside at the disused Tempelhof airfield in Berlin.

The Santas and Christmas angels can be booked for company events, shopping malls, restaurants, and kindergartens, and they can be hired to visit families on Christmas Eve.

One of the Santas, Andreas Penski, said they ask families to ventilate their homes before a visit and wear masks.

"We won’t be singing carols to avoid the burden of the aerosols and we will be keeping the distance to the families and the children when taking pictures or giving out presents,” he said.

Another Santa, Alex Meissner, said: "This year is special; this year is different. We have a problem with the coronavirus but that won’t stop us from bringing happiness and joy to the children."

While Germany managed to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control in March and April, it is now dealing with a more deadly second wave and has closed restaurants and bars, while keeping schools and shops open.

(Reporting by Fabrizio Bensch and Emma Thomasson; Editing by Clelia Oziel)