A different kind of Christmas

Press releases 2010

A different kind of Christmas

Every year, a number of students choose to celebrate Christmas at the Møllevang Church meeting house. By doing so, they avoid the rush for buying gifts, and experience a different kind of Christmas, according to Elisa Wejse, a student minister.

By Sanne Hyldgaard

shy@adm.au.dk

 

We can still feel the frost as we take our places at the table, which has been set with ginger nuts, mandarins, tea and coffee for our meeting to prepare for Christmas Eve. A couple of students arrive dripping wet and say hello to Elisa Wejse, a student minister. The aim of the meeting is to give the students an opportunity to get to know each other and to hear about the plans for Christmas Eve.

“There are quite a lot of churches that hold Christmas celebrations for people who don’t spend it with their families for one reason or another, but it’s more common as people get older. There are often lots of homeless people too, so as a student who’s doing well, you don’t necessarily feel you’re in the right company,” explains Elise.

One of the students curious to see whether it is something for her is Trine.

“I’m not really sure what I’m doing yet. I’ve had three other offers, but I’m still thinking about it,” she explains.

Between twenty-five and thirty-five students turn up for Christmas Eve each year. They come for different reasons. About half of them are exchange students for whom it is too far to go home, and the other half are Danes who are unable to spend Christmas with their families, or simply do not want to for one reason or another.

“I come because I haven’t got a family to celebrate Christmas with,” says Trine.

 

 

Why celebrate Christmas?

For people in Trine’s situation, it would possibly be easier to simply not celebrate Christmas at all, but it is not really like that.

“I’ve reached the stage where I can’t help celebrating Christmas. It’s much worse not doing so, since I didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with throughout my childhood,” she says.

All the students who choose to turn up have different personal reasons for coming.

“I don’t always find people need to talk about it. Most of them come along and leave again without any great reason for talking about why they’re here,” says Elisa.

Some people come simply because they are tired of Christmas being entirely a matter of stress and gifts.

Katja and her husband have signed up as volunteers for the event because they are tired of Christmas Eve.

“I haven’t bought presents for anyone this year either. It’s been the most quiet and relaxed December in my life, and all my colleagues have been very envious,” she tells the others around the table. They all laugh and nod in agreement as they try to fold Christmas decorations shaped like stars.

Elisa’s husband and four children take part in the event as well.

“I also use it to teach my children about the true values of Christmas. The fact that it’s not all about presents, but is a matter of giving something to your fellow humans as well,” she says.