This is your busy time of year, vicar! 26 Nov 2019
It was as early as March that I received an email asking about the dates for this year’s Carols till Closing. Someone was trying to organise the date of their work’s office party and knew that if it clashed with the pub carols the would be in big trouble.
Unlikely though it may seem, over the past seven years, the slightly unexpected juxtaposition of a priest, a pint and a piano in a pub has become a festive reference for all kinds of people across our city – and it’s even been listed as one of the top 20 Christmassy things to do in Britain by a national newspaper.
I guess it just goes to show that sometimes it’s the simplest of things that hit the mark and catch people’s imagination and enthusiasm – and it’s a great demonstration of our local community spirit.
This year Carols till Closing begins at The Boot on 9 December and rolls on to its maiden visit to The Great Northern on 11 December, The White Lion on 12 December, The Mermaid – last year’s addition to the ‘tour’ – on 16 December, The White Hart Tap on 17 December and the carousing reaches its finale at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks on 19 December. Each evening the carolling starts around 8pm and goes on ’til…well, closing.
But of course this is just one small example of the many, many things that are going on in our city and district over the Christmas period.
You should by now have received the Christmas brochure through your door with a taste of the events on offer but if not, you can pick up a copy of various locations including the St Albans Museum + Gallery, Verulamium Museum and St Albans library. All the events in the brochure and lots more are also online at enjoystalbans.com/christmas.
It’s a brilliant initiative this year that brings together information on a whole range of festive activities from Santa’s Post Office to Boxing Day football, from gospel choirs to the Polar Bear Plunge, plus the new St Albans Christmas Stage in the heart of the Christmas Charter Market on 15 and 22 December. You’ll be surprised to see just how much is going on.
Of course, if I had a pint for every time someone said to me “Oh this is your busy time of year Vicar” I’d have a very merry Christmas. Yes, as Vicar of St Saviour’s there’s a lot going on for me to be involved with in church and out and about in the community because Christmas is still the most public of Christian festival.
Yet whatever faith or philosophy or background you might come from, Christmas is actually for everyone. Believing that God entered human life in the baby of Bethlehem (as ridiculous as that might sound to many) means that human life has been made sacred. All human life. So that means we all matter, and our community matters. So we all have something to celebrate – Happy Christmas.
By Father Richard Watson, Vicar at St Saviour’s Church.
This article first appeared in the Herts Advertiser on behalf of the St Albans Visitor Partnership on 21 November 2019.