This is a very special time of year for Christians and for those brought up in countries in which the main religion is Christianity. Its a time when families get together over a traditionally European family meal.

There are two major changes happening to this event. Firstly as cuisine becomes more international the old meat and 2 vegetables (or other traditional but similar European food) is being replaced, possibly by dishes from all over the world. The second change is in the people themselves. Both travel by choice to other countries, often loosening ties with family, and the mass immigration from so many countries by refugees in which family is left behind, mean that those in countries which celebrate Xmas can be people from very different religions and backgrounds. Many will be from areas where Christianity is not practised so the concept of Christmas is not understood.

For the latter group, for whatever reason they moved, Christmas will not have the same impact. For those who have moved from Christian countries it will be a time of homesickness, in which thoughts will turn back to ‘the old days’ and families and rituals left behind.

The very celebration of Christmas is a reminder that the family is the main support for all humans and for those who are deprived of this it becomes a time of regret and sadness.

Let those of us who will be celebrating with our families; let’s realise that we are the lucky ones on earth. For those who aren’t with their families for whatever reason let’s hope that they can find substitute families so that no-one is entirely alone. Whatever our circumstances let’s work together to make the world a better place in which we can all feel that we are in a place where we belong. May we all work towards families being able to stay in the country they call home, not separated through the evil of others.