Wishing You a Curious ChristmasChristine Van Wyk
WISHING YOU A CURIOUS CHRISTMAS, FROM ALL OF US AT COMMON GOOD!
This Christmas, our prayer is that you’d actively develop a respectful curiosity about cultures different from your own, and how they celebrate Christmas. The Bible says that heaven will be a big celebration (Rev 19:1-3), and that it will involve people from different tribes (Rev 5:9 and Luke 13:29)– so in preparation of that day- let‘s start discovering how our earthly tribes celebrate, and what better occasion than Christmas- the birth of a Saviour and a holiday that is widely celebrated.
In a country as diverse as ours, we’d be selling ourselves short if we didn’t look further than our own Christmas traditions; we have so much to learn about and from one another! We’ve put together some ideas to get the conversation going and at this time of year our calendars are often jam–packed with events where we sit shoulder to shoulder with people who are different from us: at your work festive bash, Bible-study year end celebration or thank-you dinners, the queues at shops where the carols are looping and the decorations are up or even sitting in the pews at your church.
Be curious about other cultures, ask questions and like our friend Lux reminded us recently, say WOW before you say HOW. We took this guide to some work colleagues and were so moved by the different experiences of how Christmas is celebrated.
YOUR CHRISTMAS CURIOUSITY GUIDE
- Does anything change around your home at Christmas time? (when we asked this we expected to hear about decorations and tree’s, but we learnt that household renovations are also really common in some cultures)
- What kinds of foods do you and family enjoy around Christmas?
- Do you have a special meal on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
- What about the town or city you’re in? What is the vibe like? Are there any community events like parades or church services that are well attended? Do you take part?
Here's what some of our team have to say...
“No, we don’t redecorate or upgrade for Christmas, we put up a tree and tinsel, sweets – there is present sharing, maybe more what we associate with a European Christmas. The celebration of Christmas Day is pretty much a family day… family from far away come together, some family come from the UK, SA- all over. There is lots of chocolate, and we’re usually celebrating at home. Foods I associate with Christmas time are chicken and beef, and coleslaw- a lot of coleslaw! We had a tree when there were children around, but now that we’re all grown, we don’t have a tree anymore.”
“…sometimes, I don’t go home for December because it gets packed- so everyone comes home to the Free State from Johannesburg, wherever they’ve settled down it’s a family gathering of plus minus 30 people in the home! The house is obviously cleaner than normal, we re-paint and spruce the place up for Christmas. And there is more food than normal: baked goods, sweets… a lot more meat, sometimes a goat will be slaughtered. During Christmas, in my family, we are Christians, so it’s a must to go to church- everyone goes! On Christmas morning we all go to church, come back and eat. In my location, everything is so quiet in the morning because EVERYONE is at church, even if you want to put your loud music- you’re not going to! But after 12 everyone is at home and playing music, but not before 12- in the morning, it’s very strict. Gifts are normally given before Christmas Day, and they do not come from Santa or Father Christmas- it’s mostly for the kids though… No, we do not have a tree”
“…everyone comes to Queenstown for Christmas, but before that happens it will be busy there! At the end of each year we’ll be decorating the house, painting, changing bedrooms, curtains- all the people who are coming contribute to making the home special and nice! On Christmas day, we attend church from 9 till 11 then when we come out the kids can play together, out in the streets. Sometimes someone will have umqombothi, where they’ll call everyone to gather and say, ‘Ok, we’re having this sheep at my house and that’s what I have for you guys”
“Our festive seasons begins with Advent; 4 weeks before Christmas Eve we have a wreath with candles on, and you light one candle (each week) so it’s a preparation towards Christmas. As a kid, Santa Claus brought gifts, we have a tree and put ornaments out, we have a nativity scene as well. The foods we normally have around that time of year are lebkuchen (spiced biscuits), stollen (a dense sort of cake with currants in it- not like Christmas cake though..), marzipan and nuts! We have nuts in the shell and they are out with a nut cracker and we enjoy that… Christmas Eve is for church and then home for presents, we have a family service with a nativity theme, the kids dress as angels and shepherd, we celebrate with Christmas songs. Christmas Day is a family day to eat and relax mostly.”
“…we don’t stay at home on Christmas, we go out! To public picnic spots or parks where there are other people braaiing and there are pools. There are a lot of people, it’s congested. We meet people that we know but our main goal is not getting to know new people, but for us spending time outside our home… Around December it is time for home upgrades as we prepare for Christmas, because there will more people than usual in the house there is generally more meat. There are no gifts really, it’s only Christmas clothes that we buy for the children- and they are normally involved in choosing the items. They are not wrapped up or anything like that- we don’t have a Christmas tree… We see the 24th of December as preparation for the Christmas Day, and on Christmas day we normally enjoy foods like meat(goat) and salads, jelly and custard and alcohol- there is a lot of alcohol.”