East Anglia Says Goodbye To Host of Christmas Traditions

published on 5 Dec 2014

A new survey of people from East Anglia, Norwich, and Chelmsford residents has revealed that a host of Christmas traditions are falling by the wayside because modern life is taking over. 

Turkey roast is falling out of favour with 43 per cent of people surveyed in Norwich, and across East Anglia saying they would not have a turkey roast compared to Chelmsford which saw just 30 per cent considering an alternative to the turkey dinner. In Norwich more than 13 per cent of people said they would consider an alternative such as steak and chips on Christmas day. 

Researchers found that across East Anglia 55 per cent of people don’t plan to go to mass or Christmas eve services over the festive period this year. This was even higher in Norwich with 60 per cent of people not intending to go. However, in Chelmsford 57 per cent of people intend to go to midnight mass or Christmas eve services this Christmas. A third of people in Chelmsford, 23 per cent in Norwich and 20 per cent across East Anglia felt that nativity plays were going out of fashion.

And 12 per cent of people in East Anglia believe that sending Christmas cards to friends and family is a disappearing tradition over the festive period. 

The survey, commissioned by The Salvation Army, revealed that people spend most of their time shopping and wrapping presents, perhaps because most people felt that giving and wrapping gifts, provides the most Christmas wellbeing citing it in their top three (60% in East Anglia,70% in Chelmsford, 56% in Norwich). Spending time with family was more important to people living in Chelmsford – with 57 per cent saying that helped their wellbeing (Norwich 39%, East Anglia 34%). 

Many people in the area now find that Christmas has become too commercial ( 41% East Anglia, 29% Chelmsford, 44% Norwich). 

Yet, more than 70 per cent of people in the region still thought that The Salvation Army, including its festive choirs and bands, was synonymous with Christmas.  The Salvation Army is a Church as well as a charity, and will be holding services across the UK over Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus. 

Chelmsford Salvation Army minister, Major Mark Sawyer said: ‘At Christmas, Chelmsford Salvation Army provides plenty of opportunities for people to be part of a larger “family” at Christmas as we join to celebrate, sing carols, share gifts and enjoy lunch under the age old story of God’s gift to the world of Jesus.

‘Many people will be joining their families for Christmas, but we realise this is not possible for everyone. Throughout the year Chelmsford Salvation Army offers a friendly welcome to everyone in the community to be part of a wider family, where they can discover new company, practical help and compassionate support – Christmas is no exception to this.

‘It is interesting that the results of the poll have noted the generosity of people in East Anglia– throughout the year their generous donations support the work we do with the community and enable us to provide a safe, welcoming home for those who most need our help in Chelmsford.’

This year, Chelmsford Salvation Army church will be running a number of carol services to bring people together, alongside its regular activities. The church also supports its community with a range of community activities including older people’s clubs, luncheon clubs (providing affordable meals), parent-and-toddler groups and homelessness work.

 Major David Jackson, divisional commander for the Anglia division of the Church and charity, said: “With the focus on buying presents - it’s so easy to become immersed in the frantic getting ready for the modern

Christmas. Even from October we start to see adverts and decorations on the high street, starting the pressure for us to prepare for Christmas.

"If we take a step back from wrapping and buying gifts, it means we can really appreciate the time we have with family and friends at this time of year. But this festive season should also give us a reason to help others who aren’t in a position to go shopping.

"Volunteering to support those who are less fortunate than us is an alternative way of spreading Christmas spirit that everyone can get involved in. It is a time to celebrate God’s message of good will to all men. We can do this by reaching out to our community and helping those in need as well as focusing on family and friends.

“The Salvation Army helps people who are lonely or in need in every community – offering practical support and a friendly welcome. Why not join us over Christmas, The Salvation Army conducts services throughout the Christmas period, or if you would like to help us help others, why not donate to our Christmas fundraising appeal...or just say Happy Christmas to your neighbour.”

Salvation Army Churches and centres across the region run toy appeals and Christmas day lunches for those who might otherwise be on their own.