What does Christmas mean for you?

In order to find out what Christmas means to different people around the world we asked a handful of Tearfund employees to share their experience of this time of year. From snowy forest walks and rockets at midnight to distributing blankets to people living on the streets, the results are warm-hearted, delicious and often illuminating.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

‘Christmas is the birth of the saviour of the world.’

Honorine Deounon, DMEAL and Compliance Officer, Chad

Biyama Kadafa, Cluster Finance Lead, West Africa Cluster 

‘Christmas means reconnecting with the start of God’s rescue plan! Finding the fulfilment of prophecies of old in a baby. Noting the meaning behind that which we easily pass by, such as the star on top of the tree. It means fun and laughter and family. Seeing our children's eyes light up with the delight and magic of the festive season. It means feasting and relaxing and some competitive board games! 

‘As a fairly young family of just eight years in the making, and a family of very mixed culture, we are developing our own rituals. Advent is spent opening our home-made calendar, which may contain a chocolate or small gift, some scripture and a relevant activity, or a suggestion for an act of kindness. On Christmas Eve we enjoy hosting friends, especially those who do not have family to spend Christmas with. In the evening, we sit together on the floor by candlelight and eat the sort of food Joseph and Mary would have eaten. We think of their journey to Bethlehem, perhaps read a great children’s book on it, or act parts out, asking questions like: "Just how uncomfortable is a donkey’s back when you are nine months pregnant?" 

‘And of course all the adults turn a blind eye to the hyper craziness of the excited kids on the night before Christmas! On Christmas Day we like to embrace our Nigerian roots. Opening stockings and church is followed by Jollof rice and chicken. And the day is not complete without calls to family around the world. The gift I would give to my colleagues is good rest over the festive season.’ 

Alexis Pacheco, Country Director in Central America, Honduras

‘Christmas is an opportunity to set aside time as a family, to rest, eat and celebrate together the coming of our common saviour. In our family, my wife transforms the house with Christmas decorations, and one of my favourites is to assemble the nativity as an expression and symbol of gratitude. We have a beautiful tradition of sharing a gift through a raffle that we give at midnight on the 24th, when we gather to pray and light the rockets (fireworks)! I would give a Christmas flavoured tamale to all my colleagues.’ 

Pieter Bakker, Deputy Global Logistics Manager at Tearfund UK 

‘Christmas is a time to come home – in two ways. Home in Christ Jesus, who through his birth provides us with the temple of Christianity and home in terms of family. Wherever we are in the world, at Christmas we go home to Weesp, in Amsterdam, to our church and family. Traditionally we celebrate Christmas with our families by going to church and having dinner together. In the afternoon we normally go out for a nice walk in the forest, which is extra beautiful when there’s snow or frost. I would like to wish everyone a blessed time with your families and a very fruitful 2020.’

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

‘I am so glad to be part of the Tearfund family where celebrating Christmas is all about sharing the love of God.’

Melissa Paultre, Administrator and HR Officer for Haiti

Shampa, Church and Community Transformation Officer for Tearfund in Bangladesh 

‘Before Christmas, we buy new dresses for family and friends. We sing Christmas carols together on Christmas Eve, along with all the family in our city. We also distribute blankets to the poor and to people living on the streets to show the love of Jesus to them. 

‘On Christmas Day, we attend a church service and we distribute cakes, oranges and sweets to the neighbours and to sick people in the hospitals near our church. Then, we fellowship together over lunch with all the believers and with our neighbours. 

‘Scripture says that we are blessed when people will persecute us for His name. (Matthew 5:10) He was born to be persecuted for our sins, to set us free; so no worries, just rejoice in the Lord!’ 

Melissa Paultre, Administrator and HR Officer for Haiti  

‘Christmas is such a wonderful time. It is a beautiful reminder of the greatest story ever told: our saviour, Jesus, coming to earth. It is a story of deep and true love, and of God’s love for all creation. 

‘For me Christmas is all about spending time with family, sharing love, gifts and creating beautiful memories. My favourite part is gathering around the dinner table and sharing a meal. I love to listen to traditional Christmas carols and songs and to worship and be reminded of the depth of God’s love for me. 

‘I am so glad to be part of the Tearfund family where celebrating Christmas is all about sharing the love of God. If I could give a gift to my colleagues it would be my time, to listen carefully enough to notice the small details that matter to them. Merry Christmas to all of you and blessings to you and your families.’ 

Joseph Aloo, Grants and Information Coordinator, Tearfund Nigeria 

‘My favourite part of Christmas is Holy Communion during the Christmas Day service when church members offer gifts and in-kind donations to the poor and less privileged. This symbolises what happened in Bethlehem on the day Jesus was born when gifts were presented to the new born King of Israel.’

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Tearfund Staff