From the Rectory – December

If there was a list of the most surprising Christmas traditions that happen around the world, Japan would undoubtedly come near the top. In a country where it isn’t even a national holiday, the astonishing success of Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas is remarkable.

It began some forty years ago, when foreigners who were living in Japan struggled to find a whole turkey or chicken anywhere else, so ended up purchasing a yuletide KFC. Ever the masters of marketing, the company seized on this and now offers specifically themed traditional Christmas party barrels. This family pack includes fried chicken, a salad, and a chocolate cake. So popular are these barrels that customers have to pre-order, and it’s not unusual for them to sell out more than a month before Christmas Day itself.

As retailers in the UK report that between 25% and 30% of annual sales will take place over the Christmas period, enticing customers to spend their money at one outlet rather than another is a battle that has to be won.

For the largest retail groups, the landscape has changed significantly in recent years. It had so often been about availability of product and competitive pricing, But now, using the skills of the advertising creatives, eliciting an emotional response to what a retailer has to offer is central.

It’s all about the experience.

Carols sung by candlelight, Christmas trees weighed down by decorations, children excitedly hanging stockings, roaring fires, mulled wine, mince pies, red nosed reindeer and the ho-ho-ho of a jolly Santa Claus. A modern Christmas seems to be incomplete without these things, and has echoes of fondly remembered previous years.

Look further back to the very first Christmas.

A young girl, unexpectedly carrying her first child. A husband taking his bride on an unwelcome journey. A birth away from the safety of home among strangers, surrounded by the filth and stench of animals. And throughout it all, the promise of God in the form of a human child.

It may give rise to an entirely different set of emotions. But it’s love, God’s love that informs them all.

The love of God at Christmas is Good News, and that good news has a name, the name of Jesus Christ.

Happy Christmas

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