This assembly for key stages 3-4 looks at the meaning of Christmas as a festival which brings people together. It suggests that students compare the preparation of a Christmas pudding with the social and spiritual ingredients needed for a successful Christmas!

Resources

Four readers/actors

Table and four chairs.

Engagement

Leader: Who likes Christmas pudding? [Pause] [As the leader reads the following, actors mime the action at the front of the room in an exaggerated manner. They ‘freeze frame’ on each Pause.]

Picture for a moment a traditional Christmas scene. The happy family are seated at a decorated table around the remains of the turkey and sprouts, while the mother of the family stands in the doorway with the Christmas pudding held in front of her on a tray.

[Pause]

Everyone cheers and the father pours a little brandy over the pudding.

[Pause]

Someone turns the light off and he lights the brandy with a match.

[Pause]

There’s another cheer.

[Pause]

Everyone smiles and says…

Readers: Happy Christmas!

[Pause. Actors leave]

Leader: Nowadays, most people buy their Christmas pudding from the local supermarket, but, in the past, they were made several weeks or even months before the event. Great care and attention went into the details, such as the collection of the ingredients, and selecting the best recipe and method of cooking.

The dried fruit was soaked in alcohol overnight before the mixing began. Then all the components, such as the dried fruit, sugar, flour and spices, were weighed carefully and mixed together. Sometimes the mixture was not considered finished until the whole family had taken a turn at stirring it – and each one of them would make a wish as they stirred.

Often a tiny silver sixpence was mixed into the pudding so that when it was served on Christmas day, someone would be lucky enough to find it – hopefully before they swallowed it by mistake! The appearance of the Christmas pudding on Christmas Day – sometimes with a candle alight on the top – was seen as big treat for everyone and became a symbol of all the best things that Christmas had to offer.

Reflection

There are signs everywhere around us at the moment that the Christian festival of Christmas is fast approaching! Town centres are decorated with holly and lights and shop shelves are filled with the foods that we love to eat particularly at Christmas. We put tinselled Christmas trees in our houses. We look forward to eating the Christmas Day meal – turkey, sprouts, parsnips, mince pies – as well as the Christmas pudding. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we would like as presents, as well as choosing presents for our friends and relatives. These Christmas preparations seem to start earlier and earlier every year!

Sometimes it seems as if we believe that the success of Christmas depends on the amount of money that we spend on it. At the moment we are experiencing the effects of the ‘credit crunch’ – this means that there isn’t as much money around to spend as usual, as most people are being extra careful with their money. Perhaps this gives us an opportunity to think about the real meaning of Christmas, and in fact, the real value of all religious festivals. Does a good Christmas necessarily depend on spending a lot of money? [Pause] And if it does, should it? [Pause]

The Christmas festival on 25th December celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Christians believe that, as the son of God, He brought Hope, Light and Love into the world. Traditionally, Christmas is seen as a time to spend time with family and friends, when we expect everyone to be pleasant and loving towards each other – and generally people do seem to behave in a kinder way. It seems that people really take the opportunity to enjoy themselves and to be generous to others.

People involved in other religious festivals have similar intentions during their times of celebration and, although the reasons behind the festivals may be different, there are often similarities in the traditions practiced. For instance, lights and candles are an important part of Christmas, as are presents. Similarly, the Indian festival of Diwali has an emphasis on light and presents, and is even known as the Festival of Light. Feasting is also important – but although the food eaten might differ, the coming together of people for a mutual celebration is the same.

In some ways, the build up and preparations for festivals become as important as the day or days themselves, because it can seem like the more care we take the better the event itself will be.

In a way, then, the effort that goes into making a good Christmas pudding could be seen as a metaphor for the care and attention needed to prepare for a successful and happy celebration, like Christmas.

Response

So what’s the recipe for a good Christmas? How about this?

To make a successful Christmas:

Reader 1: Take a large bowl of good will and into it place two pounds of well-washed good intentions. Stir carefully to combine thoroughly.

Reader 2: Stir in at least 3 glasses of 100 percent-proof love. You cannot overdo this ingredient because the pudding will taste better the more that is added. Cover with a clean cloth of understanding and allow the mixture to stand overnight to infuse.

Reader 3: The next morning, sieve 12 ounces of happiness together with a teaspoon each of expectation, optimism, surprise, kindness and forgiveness. Add carefully making sure no lumps of resentment or bad feelings fall into the mix.

Reader 4: Stir the mix together with 4 generous spoonfuls of positive remarks, 2 tablespoons of bling and a pinch of tradition.

Reader 1: Bake slowly, making sure that the pudding does not overcook by observing it carefully.

Reader 2: It is traditional to set fire to the pudding by covering it in excitement and lighting with a match. Don’t overdo this or your pudding might explode. Serve with a sprig of kindness.

Enjoy!

Reader 3: Pay careful attention to all stages of the recipe, being careful not to leave anything out. The pudding tends to not be successful if rushed. A calm and steady approach throughout the preparation makes a better pudding.

Reader 4: Please note: An understanding of the spiritual meaning behind the making of the pudding adds to the flavour considerably.

[The following may be used as a meditation or prayer]

Reader 1: As we approach Christmas Day, we hope to be generous in our thoughts and helpful in our preparations.

Reader 2: We reflect on the fact that perhaps our understanding of coming together to celebrate it is more important than how much money we have to spend.

Reader 3: We look forward to appreciating the company of our friends and families.

Reader 4: We intend to remember the spiritual messages of love, hope and peace throughout the world.

(Amen)

This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2008

About the author: Jaki Miles-Windmill

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