I love Titus 3:4 - ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.’ That is worth celebrating! Christians around the world do so in different ways.
The Russian, Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches in the East etc exchange gifts after the feast of the Magi, usually on January 7th. The Orthodox begin their 12 days of Christmas with fasting to prepare for the coming One. In Pakistan Christians paint their house walls again with a coloured whitewash and buy each other a new set of clothes. It is great to see many poor families being able to dress up for the Christmas Services where Punjabi psalms and Christian carols are sung with gusto! They also build large wooden-framed Christmas stars with red paper, illuminate them internally and suspend them for Muslims and Christians to see - presenting a witness to their wider community.
There are of course those who simply take on Western cultural practices. A friend told about a Kenyan dressed up in a Santa’s outfit outside a store in El Doret with Jingle Bells playing. December is particularly hot at that time of year in Kenya! Simon Clift has celebrated with our diocesan companion link in Holy Cross Cathedral singing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ in a temperature of 35 degrees centigrade! I like the laid-back Australians who enjoy their Christmas BBQ feast on the beach
At Christmas we received the greatest gift of all as Christ is born for each one of us. Let us be a gift to other people this Christmas by particularly inviting the lonely, neglected and poor to His feast – that is a tradition worth practising!