The United Parish of
Chinnor, Aston Rowant, Sydenham & Crowell

Pastoral Letters



Brian writes

‘Christmas traditions’

Well hello dear reader.  I’m guessing you’re reading this editorial at the beginning of December in which case you’ve still got a few weeks to go until Christmas itself.  However, my own personal Christmas started way back in October when I had my first mince pie.  I love mince pies, indeed, I’m thinking of starting a new society called ‘The Society for Eating Mince Pies All Year’ (MPAY).  Anyone want to join?  Why mince pies are limited to Christmas I don’t know.  Google tells me that mince pies were originally made of meat, fruit and spice, all inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine and brought back by the Crusaders.  They eventually morphed into our non-meat version - yummy.

I wonder what Christmas traditions are special to you?  There’s tons of them.  There’s the Christmas tree, decorations, turkey, the trimmings, mulled wine, nativity plays, mistletoe, hanging up stockings, Pantomimes, the Queen’s speech and even Father Christmas on the garage roof.  I celebrate all these although I do draw a line at the garage roof! 

Many Christmas traditions are obviously linked to the Church, such as carol singing.  Some traditions which at first sight don’t seem to be connected with Church indeed are.  For example, there’s Christmas tree decorating.  Apparently, the great church reformer, Martin Luther, was the first person to decorate a tree with candles and bring it indoors.  His idea was to show his children what stars looked like at night in the forest. It didn't become popular in Britain until the nineteenth century, when Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert introduced the custom from Germany. 

In contrast to the fun of Christmas, there’s the period which I don’t like when the traditions have to cease for another year.  I take down the decorations, put them in the loft and adjust to mince pie starvation.  However, it seems to me that the birth of Jesus is something to celebrate all-year round alongside the other great celebrations.  The fact that He was born, that He came into the world to die for our sins, that He rose from the dead and that He is alive today is the full story which Christmas starts.  As the angel said to the shepherds, ”I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people …  a Saviour has been born, He is Christ the Lord”.  Surely this is a cause for celebration every day, not just once a year?  If we did celebrate Christmas all year, I might have mince pies all year.

So, dear reader, have a Happy Christmas remembering the Saviour and enjoying your mince pies. 

With blessings from Revd Brian Griffiths.