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Irene in Bali
I spent last Christmas watching the livestream of our Christmas service home alone in my flat, and it felt really hard to be honest. I really hope things are different this year, but I’m not sure they will be. I think there’ll still be restrictions on gatherings and maybe on travel back to our home towns as well.
With most people in Bali being Hindu, the Christian festival is celebrated in shops with music and decorations, but present giving isn’t really a tradition. Instead, we all travel home to our family villages where we’d usually have a potluck lunch with traditional Balinese food and some western treats that the kids enjoy like apple and pumpkin pie.
For me, Christmas is all about remembering Christ’s life come to Earth as a human because of his love for us. I start listening to Christmas carols in September. I love them – my favourite is ‘Angels we have heard on high’ and ‘The First Noel’.
Samson in India
Most things are opening up in Punjab at the moment and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to
travel back to our home villages this year – it’s been a long time!
Christmas Day is about a family outing – maybe lunch in a restaurant with cakes and sweets that families prepare for the day. Even though Christianity isn’t the main religion, there’s a big focus on buying and displaying lights, decorations and Christmas trees. I learnt the Christmas song ‘Mary did you know?’when I was at school and it’s still my favourite.
The main thing I celebrate at Christmas is the love we’ve received and how we can share that with others. It’s not just the worship, but about forgetting yourself and sacrificing time for others in need. It’s the tradition of our diocese to spend time at Christmas going to bus stations, to the streets where people live and giving out blankets and food.”
Joy in The Solomon Islands
Usually at Christmas I would go home to my village from Honiara. In the months before Christmas, all the families plant their gardens with enough extra to harvest for the returning families. They will go and hunt pigs so we can feast together on pork, fish, potatoes, cassava and bananas.
On Christmas Day we go to church in the village and then we celebrate by going house to house to sing for everyone and take small gifts like soap or matches. It’s also a chance for us to give messages about Jesus that encourage people to receive him as a new birth into their lives.
Music is a big part of our tradition – my favourite song is ‘Jingle Bells!’ In two weeks’ time the Women’s Fellowship will hold its traditional choral competition and this year we have chosen ‘Good Christian Men Rejoice’ – the best choir will win, and we look forward to that very much.