Good Evening. We hope that you will enjoy the latest in our ‘Not-the…’ series. This would have been our Christmas party! We hope you enjoy the customs, memories, quiz, recipes and music. Supper choice is yours!! Happy Christmas.
Memories of Christmas past from Pastor Pete.
I remember that on Christmas Day 1977, I was working for an agency which supplied relief milking staff to farms. I had been sent to Hinton Charterhouse, which I think was in Somerset then, because the regular herdsman was off sick with back problems. Cows don’t do holidays, so that Christmas Day was the normal 5 am start. When I arrived at the farm and looked over the herd, it wasn’t all normal. Overnight, a calf had been born. A pretty routine event among dairy cows, but the only one to arrive in the few days I was there. Once I’d got through all the milking and feeding routines, I took a little time out, to gaze in wonder at a newly independent creature, delivered into the world. Naturally, I associated the event with the rather different
nativity, which we were all celebrating that day. Human birth is pretty routine, too, but there were factors in Jesus’ birth which have kept it in human memory across the world, for rather more years than the 43 which have passed since I last milked cows.
Christmas music for you to enjoy
‘My Favourite Time of Year’ sung by The Florin Street Band
A Childhood Christmas Memory from Peter Ratcliffe
There’s a popular seasonal saying that ‘Christmas is just for children’! Over the years, with so many experiences with choirs, concerts and various other Christmas events the true meaning of Christmas has
certainly overshadowed that statement, but when you’re a child, it seems like the most wonderful time of the year. It’s 1963. I’m 5 years old, living in Hounslow and my much loved Aunty Win and Uncle George have arrived to fulfil every child’s dream, to take me to see Father Christmas. A short walk to the tube station (a highlight in itself) and we were off, clattering our way to central London. Even today, some 56 years later, I still enjoy the thrill of emerging from the depths of the tubes into the razzmatazz of Oxford Circus! The lights, the noises, the hustle and bustle, it’s still a ‘wow’ moment. It may not have been so glamorous in 1963, but to a five year old it was magical. With my uncle and aunt on either side, we made our way to Selfridges and joined a queue of equally excited youngsters. There were moving images, clowns and magicians to keep everyone happy until the moment arrived. An elf or pixie opened a grand door and invited me in. There, enthroned in lights and tinsel with heaps of wrapped gifts all around was the person I had come to see, Father Christmas! A white bearded, red coated man with a huge beaming smile who welcomed me with such joy, “Peter, come up here and sit beside me”. He was amazing, for about a minute, he listened and sounded interested in everything I had to say before producing a huge red book in which he wrote down whatever gift I had requested. I was allowed to choose a mystery gift from one of the piles of gifts that surrounded him and it was time to say goodbye. It wasn’t the end of the trip as uncle and aunt took me to have fish and chips somewhere, after that it was time to go home. Many years later the trip was repeated as my wife Louise and I took the two children she nannied for up to London. This time the trip took all day, the queue for Hamley’s was down the street and round the corner and perhaps the magic for me was a bit dulled. But it certainly lived in the eyes of all the children patiently waiting their turn. The lights, the sounds, the razzmatazz was still there. Long may it continue.
Christmas customs from around the world
The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven barangays (villages) take part in the festival and
competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a metre in diameter, made from ‘papel de hapon’ (Japanese origami paper) and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six metres in size. They are illuminated by electric bulbs that sparkle in a kaleidoscope of patterns.
Love Christmas but think it could be improved by a spot of roller-blading? If the answer is yes, visit Caracas, Venezuela this year. Every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning – so far, so normal – but, for reasons known only to them, they do so on roller skates. This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety, before heading home for the less-than traditional Christmas dinner of ‘tamales’ (a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat, then steamed).
In Iceland, children put their shoes on the windowsill so the ‘Juletide Lads’, the Santa Claus, fills the shoes with little goodies. Christmas celebrations in Iceland start on 24th of December, Christmas eve. Families get together and enjoy good food and many visit midnight
Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.
Christmas music to enjoy
Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Curtis Haywood’s sultry rendition of ‘Hark the Herald’, spreading Christmas cheer and the truth of what the real reason for the season is and that’s the birth of Christ’.
Christmas traditions from Carol
My father one year did the ‘Charity Shop Lucky dip’. He had been to our local charity shops and bought very
strange items! My son and daughter, niece and nephew and their parents dipped in – how we laughed about our ‘dips’. Being very sentimental we found it hard to dispose of the strange items. My son still has the black china cat, my niece the biscuit tin, the Red Indian dolls, glasses etc – not sure what our family did with them!
These days I do the Family ‘Lucky dip’. Heirlooms I can’t throw away through being too sentimental but happy if the dippers take them away and do whatever!
Christmas music for you to enjoy
The Rend Collective sing ‘Today is the Saviour’s Day’
Christmas memories from Louise
I am going back just a few years to when I was a teenager! Early one December day I received a phone call that changed our youth clubs Christmas that year. Our beloved youth leader whose name was Mega, had been involved in a very serious motorbike accident. As a group we were devastated and as he had no family in this country, we decided that we should keep a vigil by his bed. This we did and on Christmas day he was in a stable place and we were able to all gather round his bed and sing carols and have a Christmas service. We then took on a tour of the hospital giving out cards and sweets to children and elderly folk who had remained in hospital. I have to say it was a wonderful Christmas day and it gave the group a real bond and some of us are still in touch today. It was a real blessing to see the faces of the children and the laughter as we all had silly hats and reindeer antlers on by that stage! It became a church tradition after that year that some folk from church would go to the hospital on Christmas day each year.
Christmas quiz questions
- Which country started the tradition of putting up a Christmas tree?
- How many ghosts show up in A Christmas Carol?
- In Home Alone, where are the McCallisters going on holiday when they leave Kevin behind?
- Which country did eggnog originate?
- How many gifts were given in total in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ song?
- In which Christmas movie does Tom Hanks play 6 of the characters?
- In which country is it tradition to eat KFC for Christmas dinner?
- How many of Rudolph’s fellow reindeers’ names start with the letter D?
- What is traditionally hidden inside a Christmas pudding?
- Which city has been donating Trafalgar Square’s Christmas tree to London every year since 1947?
- What is the best-selling Christmas single of all time?
- What time is the Queen’s speech traditionally broadcast on Christmas Day?
- What colour are mistletoe berries?
- In Home Alone 2, who does Kevin run into in the hotel lobby?
- What colour suit did Santa wear until Coca Cola rebranded him in red?
- What decoration do elves traditionally have on their shoes?
- Miracle On 34th Street centres on what real-life department store?
- Which Christmassy song plays at the end of the 1988 film Die Hard?
- What is the opening line to Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’?
(Answers to follow on Monday 14th December.)
A beautiful song sung by some talented children ‘Prince of Peace’ – Children’s Christmas song
A Christmas memory from Maria Jones
This is a memory from about ten years ago. New neighbours had moved in. They were Nepalese. This was in
Englefield Green where Maria grew up. New next-door neighbours were always invited in for a drink so the family thought they would do the neighbourly thing and invite the latest arrivals in for a drink. Maria’s Mum and Dad were there, and Ram came around with his family. Drinks turned into Christmas lunch and Ram’s wife Padma brought beautiful Nepalese food while Maria was frantically peeling more spuds. It was a funny, memorable occasion.
A recipe from Louise: Creamy parsnip and apple soup
• 25g/1oz butter
• 1 tbsp sunflower oil
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 600g/1lb 5oz parsnips, cut into 2cm/1in pieces
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 600g/1lb 5oz Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
• 1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable or chicken stock
• 150ml/5fl oz milk
• flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions(or
leeks) and parsnips for 15 minutes, or until the onions( leeks) are
softened. Add the garlic and apples and cook for a further two
minutes, stirring regularly.
- Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a
simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the parsnips are very
soft. Remove from the heat and season with salt and freshly ground
black pepper. Blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth.
- Stir in the milk, adding a little extra if required. Season to taste with
salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Tip for a soup with a difference
Add a little curry powder to the fried onions and parsnips before
stirring into the stock for a twist on flavour
Serves 6 .Takes around 30 mins to 1 hour in total to make.
Let’s end with a festive favourite from Cliff Richard, who always seems to be a part of Christmas either through music or sharing his faith and the telling the true meaning of Christmas. We would also normally sing this in our SBC singalong at our party…. Hopefully in 2021!
Cliff Richard sings ‘Mistletoe and Wine’.
We wish you a Christmas full of joy, peace and hope.