Such a special time for celebrating tradition

Pupils from AKS have been out and about in the community helping people get ready for Christmas. A group of sixth formers took on the task of bringing magic  to school by decorating trees around their own premises.

Pupils from AKS have been out and about in the community helping people get ready for Christmas. A group of sixth formers took on the task of bringing magic to school by decorating trees around their own premises.

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As schoolchildren across the area start their festive break Mike Walton, the headmaster at AKS in Lytham, has a special message to share.

“We all hope that someone will be visiting us during the night.

My family would traditionally hang up stockings, put out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Santa with a carrot for Rudolph.

It’s a time to give, receive, remember loved ones and of course celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Christmas provides an example of how our beliefs and traditions are passed on, in and through families, over generations.

Last week I was delighted to see a group of our AKS Sixth Form girls decorating trees around the school; the seasonal magic was back.

While I was chairman of The Federation of British Schools in Asia, the 40+ schools in my group maintained an important ‘Britishness’ wherever they were situated, so of course we all celebrated Christmas.

We also recognised the festivals of other religions, particularly those of the host nation, be it China, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand (in my case) or indeed the vast majority of countries worldwide that are home to British schools.

As a result there were lots of festivals and lots of celebrating throughout the year.

Great fun and great learning.

In Thailand few people pay much attention to Christmas, which has little significance to a predominantly Buddhist people.

For Thais the two main festivals are Loy Krathong and Songkran, the former stunningly beautiful and the latter outrageous fun, both using water to recognise aspects of Buddhist belief.

I recall my first Christmas in Thailand, being amazed that for most people 25th December was a normal working day.

No Santa, no Rudolf, no crackers and alarmingly no presents. And in April no Easter either, not a chocolate egg to be seen.

However, in experiencing, enjoying and gaining a deeper understanding of Loy Krathong and Songkran, as well as other festivals, I came to appreciate that the world was an increasingly fascinating place.

I believe it is important for our children to understand the similarities and differences that exist between our community, our country and those who live in different places with different traditions and cultures.

They say the world is getting smaller; that is exactly why our horizons and outlook must get bigger.

It seems that the key messages of Christmas, around love, peace and goodwill, are similar to religious festivals in so many other cultures.

The more we explore and understand our differences, the more we have in common.

Happy Christmas.”