• Phil - Staff Worker

What is the truth behind our Christmas traditions?

What Christmas traditions do you have in your home country? Perhaps you don't celebrate Christmas at all and have no idea what Christmas is about? On the 21st of November, Guildford celebrated the tradition of switching on the Christmas lights on the High Street with fireworks and a couple of the most popular christmas songs.

Friends International, with plenty of students, joined the crowds and watched the celebrations. Afterwards we continued the celebration in the warmth of Grace Church on Chertsey Street with homemade sausage/vege rolls and hot drinks. I (Phil) gave a short talk starting off with a short quiz on different ways different cultures celebrate Christmas - did you know it is a tradition to eat KFC on Christmas eve in Japan? The talk was then an introduction to British traditions, most of which are around food, leading into the main story behind Christmas - the nativity.

It is interesting to look into traditions and find how they have changed from the original story for example mince pies were once beef mince rather than sweet fruit and spices and Santa Claus and stockings came from a story about a Greek Bishop dropping money into a home to rescue young girls from poverty. This also is the same for the story behind a special child who was born in a stable surrounded by shepherds and some rich men with gifts. The nativity that is often seen in shop fronts and homes isn't necessarily an accurate picture of the original story. What they do point to is a special moment in history where God sent his son to save people from shame, darkness and death by bringing honour, light and life. Christmas is the start of the story of hope found in Christianity. Christmas is a time to get to know the truth behind the tradition and find there are good reasons to believe that Jesus, the baby in the manger at Christmas times, grows up to be the saviour of all.

This time of year can be lonely and cold, please don't feel like you have to stay that way. You are always welcome to get in touch with us or see our connections on our students page. You can also get in touch with the Samaritans: a charity set to help people who just need someone to talk to.

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Friends International Guildford

Friends International Guildford is a local branch of Friends International and is organised by local supporters and hosts from Christian churches in Guildford who love welcoming all international students and their families.

Phone: 07411 378332

Address: 9 Scillonian Road, Guildford, GU2 7PS

Part of Friends International

Registered Charity: 1094095

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