Although we still use the language of Christmas to describe the late December holiday, we now often hear festive, seasonal events described in other ways, like Winter Wonderland or Lapland Family Fun.
Santa will be there. You can meet one of his reindeer and you can do things like hug a huskie in an‘ice cave’.
Often there is also a Light Show in the latter part of the afternoon, an important part of this winter festivity.
This part of events like this look back to a time before Christianity.
The darkest part of the year fed the need for a celebration of light and the expectation it offers of a fruitful summer to come. And, although we rarely experience complete darkness in this part of southern England, the dark evenings do tell us that we are on a countdown of shopping days till Christmas.
And that’s where the Christmas lights come into their own.
Even in the distractions and demands leading to the Christmas festival, the magic of the Christmas lights still evokes child-like excitement within me.
Cycling down Western Road in Brighton I was captured and intrigued by the message that the profusion of its glittering lights spelt out above me.
In giant letters I read the words Bauble, Holly, Sparkle, Hope. It was the last one that resonated most spectacularly.
There we were, doing our Christmas shopping, getting home from work, meeting friends, or looking for a place to spend the night on the streets.
What did each of us hope for?
The Christian story of Christmas speaks of the birth of a child, Jesus Christ, who will be a sign of hope for everyone – a bigger hope than wondering what’s in this year’s presents.
Jesus offers us hope for a better, richer quality of life; hope for peace in our heart and in our world; and the hope that every one of your experiences of goodness, beauty and love here on earth will perfected in the joy of heaven.