A WEARSIDE priest has reacted to a report that one in 10 children in the region don’t know the true meaning of Christmas.
The figures published by The Children’s Society also show that eight per cent of children in the North East think December 25 is Santa Claus’ birthday and 15 per cent of parents don’t teach their children the tale of Jesus’ birth.
Reverend Chris Howson, of Sunderland Minster, said he is “pleasantly surprised” at the findings, fearing that the figures would be much higher.
He said: “The fact that more children do know the real meaning of Christmas is heartening.
“I’m pleased the number is so low, as it means so many people know what the real meaning is.
“It makes me sad if people miss out on the joy of Christmas.”
The charity’s figures also show that youngsters are still enchanted by the biblical story, with eight per cent preferring to hear the Christmas Story over-and-over again than playing with presents.
Rev Howson is also urging people to go to church over the festive period.
He added: “The best antidote if people don’t know the story of Christmas is to go to a church and enjoy a Christingle service.
“And if people know a family who don’t go to church, they should invite them along.
“You can’t beat hearing children sing Silent Night in a candle-lit church.”
He added: “The best way to teach children about the meaning of Christmas is to read the bible to them.
“The reading ‘the beginning of Luke’ is the story as we know it but both Luke and Matthew are beautiful versions.
“For those parents who don’t share the real meaning of Christmas, it’s probably taught at school.
“But we will try to keep spreading the true meaning of Christmas this year, and make it as fun as possible.”
Lighting the way with Christingles
The Children’s Society’s survey launches the charity’s Christmas fund-raising campaign, Christingle.
Christingles are a way of teaching children the story of Jesus, using oranges, candles, red ribbon and sweets.
There are several ideas about how the tradition was started. The Moravian Church (part of the Czech Republic) has held Christingle services for over 200 years and in 1747 in Germany, Bishop Johannes de Watteville decided to make a simple symbol to express the message of Christmas in a lively way.
The Children’s Society have held Christingle, which means Christ light, celebrations for 45 years.
Thousands of people across the country hold events in churches and schools, and children can learn what each part of the Christingle means to Christians.
Donations made through Christingle will go towards work with children, and their families.
For more information about Christingle, and to download free materials, visit www.christingle.org.