Celebrating Christmas

CELEBRATING FAMILY FESTIVALS (CHRISTMAS TIME)

Celebrating Christmas can become a source of joy and confidence in the life of a young child. The yearly rhythm of sacred celebrations reaches into the child’s soul and brings about a feeling of awe, magic and sacredness to life. Festivals have the power to elevate and warm the hearts of children and all those around them.

The festivals that we celebrate have been passed down through centuries of accumulated wealth and customs. However, there is a grave concern in modern, commercialized society, that festivals have lost their magic, their inner power to transform lives. Diana Carey and Judy Large explain:

“Some feel that major holidays are also in a commercial domain, with Christmas decorations in the shops so rapidly followed by Easter ones that the themes become superficial and any meaning lost”.[1]

Has the true Spirit of Christmas has been lost amongst the presents!

The Christmas celebration is not bound to a religious philosophy. You do not have to be of any particular religion or a church attendee to celebrate the birth of a special child who turned into a man with an exceptionally loving heart, sharing kindness, healing and compassion to all on earth. Qualities that are well worth aspiring to, on our journey as human beings!

The birth of Jesus is worth sharing and celebrating, not in a religious, but a Spiritual way. As do all the great Spiritual stories of different faiths.  The young child is touched by the wonderful story of a special child, carried while in the womb by a humble donkey, birthed in a stable with animals looking on, before being visiting by Sheppard’s and Kings alike!

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is symbolic due to its evergreen nature. It is vibrant all year round and symbolizes the – evergreen – continual nature of a loving heart and of Spirit. Contemplate these qualities when looking at and decorating your family tree! 

With a little imagination the tree can be decorated in an environmentally friendly way. Try sewing popcorn together, making material stars, paper chains and clay hangings. Be creative with this! Of course fairy lights do add sparkle! 

Father Christmas

Father Christmas originates from the legend of Saint Nicholas; a person who was loving and kind to all children. It is best to steer clear of Father Christmas’s supposed controlling nature! “Father Christmas will visit the children who are good” tone of voice! He loves children, because childhood is a magical and sacred time and requires respect and celebration! When children do realise that Father Christmas is not ‘real’, they can be told that the Spirit of Saint Nicholas and his love for children and the sacredness of childhood lives on always…… 

Christmas Carols

The singing of Christmas carols – together as a family – can be a connecting, uplifting and joyous time. Carols are steeped in history; they have been passed on from one generation to the next. Do you remember your childhood favourites? As a parent, buy a simple Christmas Carol book [6] and sing around the tree together each night. If you are lucky enough to have music in your home, a piano or guitar accompaniment sets the scene.  Do not worry if you cannot sing, your children will not notice, it is your heart – not your singing voice – which is more important!

Advent Calendars

It is best to steer clear, where possible, from the chocolate ones! This creates a lust for chocolate and very cheap chocolate at that. Cheap choc in the morning is not the greatest way to start the day! We already have one festival of the year dedicated to chocolate. Do we want to dedicate all festivals to the almighty dark, smooth stuff? Stimulating to the taste buds, but there are many other ways to enrich the soul!

An Advent wooden spiral, contains twenty four candles/holders. One candle can be lit, everyday of December, until you reach twenty-four on Christmas Eve – quite a sight! A little candle-lighting ceremony can take place with a carol each night. This provides a lovely rhythm for your home during Christmas time.

Countdown in the stars

The blue cloth – the back drop of the Advent table – can be used as an Advent calendar! On each December morning, your child can place a gold sticky star (the type some teacher’s use!) on the blue cloth. This makes is a simple Advent calendar. What an amazing site on Christmas day: twenty four stars shining over the Advent table! 

The Advent Table

To set up a magical Advent table in your home, start to think about Christmas in November! Once you have set an Advent table up one year, pack it away and it’s easy to re-create the following year. The two coloured cloths you require are red (on the table) and blue (as hanging back drop). The blue represents the Spirit world coming down to meet us and the red is for love. The two colours that Mother Mary is seen wearing. Place on four special advent candles, large candles in holders or on a wreath of plant leaves. The table is ready and waiting.

Now is the time to honour all the kingdoms on the earth! On the first Sunday of Advent (count back four Sundays from Christmas Day), light one candle and that week introduce the mineral kingdom to the table. Collect and display special crystals, stones and rocks found by your children around their home and garden. Think of how minerals serve you, even the ones in your mouth and body, teeth and bones! 

The second Sunday, the first and second candles are lit whilst the plant kingdom is added. A vase of flowers lovingly picked by your child from the garden, or a pot plant can be placed on the table. As an adult you can show reverence by contemplating and giving thanks to the different elements that make up our planet. The plant kingdom adds beauty, nourishment and the whisperings of ‘Spirit’ to the earth. 

On the third Sunday, light three candles; it is time for the animals to come! The stable can appear – with animals in and around it – waiting for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The stable can be bought or made from a cardboard box; it is the love and intent that is important. Again contemplate the animal kingdom that shares the earth alongside us.

On the fourth Sunday, all four candles are now alight and Mary and Joseph appear. Mary can slowly arrive: she can magically start from the other side of the room on her journey to the stable. Each night Mary, Joseph and the donkey can mysteriously move closer by invisible helpers! On Christmas Eve they arrive in the stable. Then the little manger awaits baby Jesus. My children run to the table on Christmas morning and cry, “Baby Jesus is here!” A magical moment has arrived, after a month of anticipation. 

A nativity set can be bought from the resource section; Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the animals have been beautifully hand carved and will last generations. Otherwise you can make felt dolls and animals or find a set in the Op Shop! Maybe there is already a nativity scene in your extended family, ask around.

After Christmas

A star appears over the stable on Christmas night and the table can continue, on Boxing Day there is a visit from the Sheppard’s with their sheep! Then on the 6th January, the time has come for the Kings! The three Kings can also travel from afar, across the room! The table is now complete. The story of the birth of Jesus, in a magical and imaginative way, has been woven into the Advent table.

Story Telling

Stories provide enriching moments during the lead up to Christmas day; fantastic books include, The Light in the Lantern[7] and Christmas Stories Together[8]. These books are simple chapter books for older children (four or five onwards). They contain a story for each day of Advent, representing each of the four our elements, the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdom. These stories can be read, after your child has placed a star on the blue back-cloth each day 

Simple story books which describe the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus and subsequent special visitors, all add to the wonder of the Advent table. The end of his life, and crucifixion, can be left until the teenage years. The same books, Advent table, calendar, tree decorations, carols can be brought out each year, building a happy and magical yearly rhythm at Christmas time for your young child. 

Enjoy this sacred time

How you feel about Christmas time reflects in your child’s experience. Are you busy, stressed or fed-up or do you hold a feeling of awe in your own heart? Celebrate this festival together and you will stoke the fire of Christmas joy, watch the embers fly!

Children will carry life-long inspiring memories in their hearts of giving, singing, and connecting at Christmas time. They will soon forget what presents they received, but these connecting family memories last forever!


[1] Carey, Diana and Large, Judy; Festivals Family and Food. Hawthorn Press. Stroud, 1982, pg iii.

[6] Farbey, Miriam; The First Noel, Dorling Kindersley Book, London, 1998.

[7] Dreizig, Georg; The Light in the Lantern. Wynstones Press, Stourbridge, 1992.

[8] Bryer, Estelle and Nicol, Janni; Christmas Stories Together. Hawthorn Press, Stroud, 2001.