In part two of our seasonal blog we hear from more Tearfund employees around the world about how they celebrate this special time of year. From candle-lit wreaths and hot chocolate with cheese to all-night dancing and feeding the poor, the results are touching, tasty and full of thanks.
‘Christmas is hope offered to mankind as a whole. My favourite part of Christmas is songs of praise and dancing. We usually have an all-night celebration.’
Olivia Guienan Zaouli Lou, Cluster Administrator, West Africa.
Adrienne Blomberg, SGBV Coordinator, West Africa Cluster
‘Having a Swiss mother means Christmas starts with Advent. We prepare an Advent wreath on the table and gather around it on the Sunday afternoon/evening to burn one candle each week – it really helps to prepare and anticipate Christmas and the gift of “God became man”:
‘The candles represent:
- Hope: we think about the hope we have in life because of Jesus (Isaiah 9:2, 6–7)
- Preparation: we talk about how we prepare to welcome Jesus’s return (Isaiah 40:3–5)
- Joy: we talk about what a joy it is to know Jesus and how we can share this with others (Matthew 2:10–11)
- Love: we talk about God's great love for us (John 3:16–19).
‘On the 24th, the family gathers for dinner and the final candle – the Christmas candle – in the middle of the Advent wreath is lit.’
Andrea Villarreal, LAC Communications Officer, Colombia:
‘Christmas is my favourite time of the year because it is a time that unites us as a family around the birth of Jesus. In Colombia, families start to decorate their homes in November. On Christmas Day we have pastries for breakfast, then I begin to prepare the dinner with my sisters. Different members of the family bring offerings such as dessert, wine or salad. It is a time when together we look back and see how our life has changed by having God with us.
‘My favourite part of Christmas is seeing my family’s reaction when they receive gifts. It may sound superficial but seeing a happy heart receive love makes me very happy. I love that moment when I can see my whole family around the table. It makes me feel that Jesus is sitting with us, and reminds us of those loved ones who have already left. Oh, and hot chocolate with cheese – a great Colombian tradition!
‘I believe that the best gift is always love and this manifests itself in different ways such as demonstrations of affection and sharing quality time. I would like to share this with my colleagues.’
Erica Neves, Communications Adviser, Tearfund Brazil
‘For me Christmas means a time to pause and reflect upon what God has done for us by sending his beloved Son to our world. In Brazil there are Christmas trees and lights shining all over the city and inside people’s living rooms. I love it when we start to light the candles to celebrate Advent. This is not something I used to do as a child, but it gives us a chance to calm our minds and let this gratitude and joy fill out our hearts. If I could give any gift to my colleagues it would be a reminder of the reasons why we celebrate Christmas. I wish all my colleagues a merry Christmas and a wonderful time with your families.’
‘Christmas is the season when God became incarnate and came to dwell among us to show his love to human beings.’
Emma Raspin, E-Learning Manager, Tearfund UK
‘For me, Christmas is an opportunity to give thanks for the relationships that God has blessed me with and to give gifts as a means of showing my gratitude to them for their love over the past year. It is a simple but powerful reminder of the ultimate gift that God gave us on Christmas Day – the opportunity for each one of us to encounter his son Jesus.
On Christmas morning, we go to church as a family and worship by singing Christmas carols and retelling the story of Christ's birth. We then hurry home to enjoy our Christmas roast dinner together – this usually includes a turkey, pigs-in-blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and other roasted vegetables. Then comes the rich Christmas pudding with brandy butter. As a child, my Grandma would hide coins in the Christmas pudding. If you found a coin in your pudding, you would need to stand on your chair and sing a song – so it was important to choose your pudding carefully to avoid embarrassment!
‘I am always in awe of the dedication, hard work and commitment that Tearfunders put into their work. So I would give my colleagues the opportunity to rest well and enjoy time with family and friends over the Christmas break.’
Scholastique Zongo, Finance and Administrative Officer, Tearfund Burkina Faso.
‘Christmas is a moment to remember the goodness of God in sending his son to earth. It is a time to share meals with family and to check on our neighbours. As a gift I would give my colleagues a chicken for the end-of-year celebration.’
Pranaya Chhetri, Country Director in Nepal
‘Christmas is the season when God became incarnate and came to dwell among us to show his love to human beings. It also reminds me how I show this love to others and challenges my approach.
‘Churches in Nepal celebrate by singing together, sharing the gospel, and inviting family and friends into their home for a feast and fellowship. On the 25th I go with my family to preach and have fellowship with other churches where I’m invited.
‘Sometimes we exchange gifts as a game but we prefer giving gifts to those who cannot afford them; for example, warm clothes because it is winter.’
Mazel Mina, Finance and Administration Officer, Tearfund Sierra Leone
‘Christmas is a time for family reunions and bonding, renewing friendships, exchanging gifts and going on holidays. I sometimes go to the beach, to my husband’s village or visit another country if possible. We celebrate it by cooking many special foods for everyone such as Jollof rice and stew, banana bread, ginger beer, grilled pork, yams and soup. I like children singing Christmas songs at my doorstep. Our church feeds the poor on Christmas day, and we raise funds to feed and clothe them.’