EVERY year, a child from Upper Austria goes to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been born and a candle is lit at the eternal flame and placed in a special lantern.
Many local people, including scouts and guides from Palestine and Israel, accompany the ORF Peace Light to Tel Aviv airport from where it is flown to Austria and is distributed at a service of dedication to delegations from across Europe and North America who take it back, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the Continent.
The campaign was originally organised by the Austrian Broadcasting Company ORF (Linz) in 1986 and was part of a large charitable relief mission Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad with scouts and guides involved in its distribution.
When Austria joined the European Union in 1995, the Austrian Member of the European Parliament Paul Rübig initiated the tradition to bring the Peace Light of Bethlehem to Strasbourg to hand the flame over to the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the city itself.
Since 1986, Austrian Airlines has been responsible for transporting the light of peace from Tel Aviv to Vienna and since 2000 it has also delivered it to New York from where it is sent via Scouts and Guides to Canada and Latin America, with one lantern being delivered to Ground Zero in New York.
Once the light arrives in each receiving country, a multitude of candles are lit and distributed by Scouts and Guides to various destinations and supporters of the peace concept.