Christmas Eve In Holten

December 24, 2004
by Mary Jane Hanson

Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (NIV)

On Christmas Eve after supper, we like to attend the Christmas Eve worship service at our church. It is usually a wonderful service, full of candlelight, music, and readings. Sometimes we participate as lay readers. When we return home after the service, we follow the Hanson tradition. My husband's grandfather came from Denmark, and it was and is custom in his family to open our gifts on Christmas Eve. I am certain that each of our readers celebrates Christmas Eve in a special way.

This year, I was particularly interested to learn how the people of Holten in the Netherlands celebrate Christmas Eve, since it seems unusual. Each year for the past fourteen years, there has been a special ceremony at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery. At 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, over 300 Dutch school children, ages eight to twelve, go to the cemetery, where they place special Finnish candles, which burn despite the wind and rain, in front of each of the 1355 graves of Canadian soldiers, who died liberating Holland in World War II. Throughout the evening, Dutch families come to remember those who died for them so that they might experience freedom. The candles burn until midnight, giving the cemetery an impressive yellow light.

We are like the Dutch people, because we have someone who died for us — Jesus Christ — so that we might experience freedom. In the midst of this celebration of his birth, let us take time to reflect on the fact that he died for us.

Prayer: Lord God, may we pause during this busy but joyous season to give honour and glory to Jesus Christ. Help us to remember that he gave his life for us. Amen.

About the author:

Mary Jane Hanson <mjh013@sasktel.net>
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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