· 30% of eighteen to twenty-five year olds in Britain do not know the Christmas story at all. They don't even know where Jesus was born.
· Only 44% of junior school children know that Christmas is meant to celebrate Jesus' birth.
· Fewer than 2% of Christmas cards have a religious theme.
· Nine out of ten people who identify themselves as Christians do not go to church. Their children only encounter the story via the infant school nativity play. Having heard it three or four times before the age of seven, they are unlikely ever to hear it again.
These statistics were first given to me by an organisation in Cardiff who, every year, put on rolling nativity plays in the city centre all day every day in the build up to Christmas in an effort to get the real meaning of Christmas across to people in their community.
‘Glee’ had this to say on the subject of Christmas, this is a direct quote: ‘the Christmas tree is the foundation of Christmas. It’s the hearth of the Christmas home. Without it there’d be nowhere to hang the ornaments or put the presents under’
Christmas has become about decorations, presents and above all Santa Clause. It is commonly accepted, admittedly sometimes with tongue in cheek, that Christmas doesn’t start until you’ve seen the coca cola advert.
Is that what we want Christmas to be about? Presents, decorations, food, Santa Clause and coke adverts? Or do we want to put the real meaning back into Christmas? Do we want to remind people that two thousand years ago God was born in a smelly cold stable so that he could die for our sins and give us eternal life?
If those statistics shocked you as much as they shocked me hopefully you’ll be inspired to do something. Whether it’s helping at one of the Christmas Cafes or bringing friends to the Minster Carol Service we need to be letting people know why this is such an important time of the year.
Should the start of Christmas be dictated by Coca Cola adverts or should people identify Christmas more with the church and our worship of a God who left heaven to come down to save the lowest of the low. Christmas is a hectic time of fun, family and an awful lot of food; but above everything else we need to remember that Christmas is the celebration of Christ and all He has done for the world.
Michael is a 'Forgee' and is on the Student team at St Michael le Belfrey. He has spent the past two years working for Riding Lights Theatre Company!