LETTER : Christian Christmases need Santa - and cribs

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The Independent Online
From Mrs J. M. Challender

Sir: It will be a sad day for Christianity when the nativity play is "suppressed", as the Rt Rev Dr David Jenkins suggests it should be (Another View; "Separating the nativity from the naivety", 18 December)

As an infant teacher who has staged the nativity play more times than I would care to remember, I know that for very many children this is possibly the most enduring and objective piece of teaching about Christianity that they will ever receive.

I, and countless teachers like myself, go to great lengths to put the birth of Jesus in an historical context, and even very young children are capable of understanding that it was a real event, that it took place in a country far away, and that it is this event that we celebrate each Christmas.

They are able to understand in a remarkably mature way concepts such as angels being symbolic message-bearers from God, and in their own mysterious way they are able to differentiate between pure fantasy - as in the tooth fairy - and reality. Abolish nativity plays and you take away the last vestige of a meaningful Christmas from the young children of society. It would appear that there are a good many clergy who have little understanding of young children and who certainly underestimate both their need for fantasy and their capability of understanding difficult concepts.

Yours faithfully,

Julia Challender

Petham,

Kent

18 December

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