BÜCKEN, Germany – Visitors from all over Germany flocked on Thursday to a small village in the country’s north to watch a glaring sight: over half a million Christmas lights set up at a private home by a local with a flair for flares.
Every year in the small hamlet of Calle – located 43 kilometers (27 miles) to the south of Bremen – amid placid cows, dense forests and vast corn fields, septuagenarian Rolf Vogt illuminates his house for the holiday season, starting on the first Saturday of Advent and ending on New Year’s Eve.
This Christmas, he has assembled 530,000 lights – a staggering amount of bulbs, to the delight of both smartphone-holding tourists and his electric power utility.
To defray the 3,000-euro ($3,537) electricity bill for the month of December, Vogt and his family have also erected a small Christmas market selling traditional Glühwein (hot spiced wine) and food, as well as a tiny merry-go-round, thus supplementing the modest income generated from the symbolic entrance fee charged to those who drop by to admire the resplendent display.
In some of the images captured by the epa photographer, Vogt is shown holding the remote control to rule them all: a device he uses to set his home (figuratively) ablaze as soon as visitors approach.
The entire idea – or light bulb in his head – sparked in 1999, following a trip to the United States from which he brought back two travel bags full of Christmas lights acquired at a Wal-Mart; ever since, the collection has mushroomed to its present bulk.
Meanwhile, 250 km to the southwest of Calle, another private project involving Christmas lights was encapsulated in images taken by an epa shooter on site.
In the town of Moers, on the western banks of the Rhine, Leon Scheepers has set up a 21,000-lightbulb Yuletide extravaganza that includes overblown Santa Clauses and colossal stockings peppering the garden and courtyard.
Although smaller in scale than its northern counterpart, the Moers Christmas House too attracts its fair share of the curious driving past the luminous estate.
Looking at both examples, one thing seems as clear as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s snout: Germans definitely love their Christmas lights.