Union Berlin: Christmas carols instead of match

Last Monday, December 23th, tens of thousands of 1. FC Union Berlin fans used the public transport to reach Stadion An der Alten Forsterei, their home ground. No football match was scheduled for this day; Instead, there was a sweet tradition to be followed for 16th consecutive year: Weihnachtssingen, which in English is simply translated as Christmas carols!

It all begun on the night of 23th December 2003. During this cold evening, 89 brave Union supporters climbed over the club gates, stood on the terraces and sang some traditional Christmas songs together. It was an idea posted at an old Union internet forum, just a few days before. Torsten, the instigator of the idea, obviously couldn’t believe that this would develop to an international fame event, which is now replicated at various clubs all around Germany.

1.FC Union fans have a great tradition in singing. For decades now they used to sing all the old Union songs just half an hour before the match. That’s how Torsten was inspired.

This is now a cornerstone of the unique 1.FC Union folklore and helped the club acquire an international bulk of fans. The official club administration includes this day to the basic fixture calendar. Its popularity has soared from year-to-year and into the second decade, the numbers have steadily moved from a few hundred to several thousands. In fact, the 2019 event was attended by a record of 28,500 people, just the number of the stadium capacity. The ticket sale process lasts just a few hours.

When the event started, all officials of the club were excluded. Back in 2003, the club had some financial problems and was in danger of relegation from the second division. The management team had bigger things on their mind during the festive season.

After the first two years, when the event’s popularity was growing fast, Union administration acted, at last. Torsten and other members approached the newly-formed Fan and Member Department at 1. FC Union Berlin and requested some assistance. Men, women, children and families wanted to participate. From then, they have been supported by the club and the Emmy-Noether-Gymnasium choir.

Over the years, some of the festivities have remained the same. Our club anthem “Eisern Union” opens the event at 7pm and is combined with familiar Christmas carols, such as, “Silent Night” and “O Tannenbaum”. The atmosphere is set under the lights of candles by a brass band and the choir. Traditional snacks bratwursts and glühwein are well-stocked like a traditional weekend league game and souvenirs are created for supporters who want to add to their Union collections.

The 2019 event was a unique one for all Union fans. This is the first time in club’s history that the team competes in German 1. Bundesliga (the 1st tier of German football).

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