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Spiritual Formation

Christmas Around the World

To share a bit of OC’s Christmas around the world, we’ve asked some of our OC workers to share with us how Christmas is celebrated where they live: in Colombia, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Indonesia, and England …

… in Colombia.

Frieda says: Colombians celebrate the “Novenas,” nine days before Christmas Eve, families gather together to pray, sing and celebrate the upcoming birth of Jesus. Colombians might even go house to house singing and praying in front of the nativity scenes people create during the Christmas season.


… in Germany.

Keith says: “On Christmas Eve churches will have three services, two at an earlier time and one at midnight. One unique highlight at the midnight service is the passing on of the “Peace Light” from Bethlehem.

candlesThe Peace Light is a candle lit from a light at the grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is carried in two blast proof miners lamps on an Austrian Airlines jet from Tel Aviv Israel to Vienna and is then “distributed” to Europe and the U.S. Many churches in Germany receive the flame and families can light their own candles from this special flame and bring them home.”

… in South Africa.

Jenny says: “The children are on a 6-week break from school, and many people take this time off from work as well. Since it is summertime, many celebrate Christmas Day outside in their backyards, down at the beach, or anywhere that they can be together with family and friends. Christian families go to church on Christmas morning.”

… in Spain.

Pam says: “Spaniards are crazy about their Belenes, known to us as nativity scenes:
nativity…including the whole town of Bethlehem such as the baker, farmers, the little stable with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. These are found in homes, stores, churches, airports, schools, as well as life-size ones in roundabouts, in caves, and in town centers. They are a vivid reminder of the very normal, everyday setting the amazing King Jesus was born into.”

… in Indonesia.

A worker says: “On Christmas morning all the Christians will get together in the town square and there’ll be a huge concert with carols sung, signs and flags waving, and there’ll be a bunch of vendors selling balloons and there’ll be sermons talking about Jesus. Then as the sun rises, the Christians will all be quiet when the call to prayer from the town mosque goes off. After that, as if the interruption never happened, the party starts back up. It comes off as somewhat paradoxical – to have this freedom to gather and worship and yet be reminded of the minority status.”


… in England.

Renée says: “The church highly values the singing of carols interspersed with the Nativity narrative. The Christmas meal is also highly valued including some big chunk of meat – turkey, duck, lamb, ham etc. plus Christmas pudding – quite unique to England. Haven’t been to a church event yet that included Santa Clause, but they do enjoy a good silly mixed up Panto play.
Christmas crackersSo on one hand, the traditional religious British seem to love their sacred music and nativity play whereas the secular culture loves their food and alcohol, oh and “crackers” – little wrapped poppers with little toys in them.”

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