Accessibility links

Britain Celebrates a Multi-Cultural Christmas


London is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world and when Christmas comes around it's a time for all the city's communities to come together. Our correspondent takes a look at how people from across Asia and Africa have brought their local holiday traditions to Britain's capital.

Britain's capital city London is known the world over for its cultural and ethnic diversity. As of 2008, 40 per cent of London's total population was from an ethnic minority group - and that cultural mix is reflected in the city's Christmas festivities.

Harrow is one of London's most ethnically diverse neighborhoods.

This year its local council has organized a Christmas service to bring the community together.

A troupe of Sri Lankan musicians sing a traditional Tamil song.

And members of Harrow's community read a prayer in 12 languages - representing only a small chunk of more than 50 languages spoken here.
Victoria, from Uganda, says this was the most important part of the service.

"It was important that we all say the Lord's Prayer in our native language to show that we can all come together and live as one body of Christ," said Victoria.

It was a Christian service, but many of the people here were not Christians.

Adeline Abraham, a Christian from India, helped to organize the service. She says Christmas is a time for everyone to join in.

"Everybody celebrates Christmas, but Christians celebrate it in a meaningful way, in a different way because it is our faith and we believe, you know, for the birth of Jesus," said Adeline Abraham. "But everybody celebrates it as a festival."

But every culture, she says, celebrates Christmas in its own way. For her family in India, one thing that's different is the Christmas dinner.

"We go to church, and OK we don't have turkey, we have lal biryani, and we have the whole family come in," she said. "But usually we have the service early morning at 4 o'clock. But here it's too cold, nobody would go out.

Farrukh Mahmood is a Muslim from Pakistan and has lived in Britain for over forty years.

"Well I didn't know very much about Christmas when I came here," said Farrukh Mahmood. "I learnt from my neighbors. They told me what they eat, what are mince pies, what are Christmas cakes, how they make. Naturally I'm a Muslim, I don't use alcohol or wine, I used to take that part away and make the Christmas cake."

At this service in Harrow over 40 ethnicities are represented, from across Africa, Asia, and Europe. And everyone here is happy to embrace the multi-cultural fabric of their community.

Jim Ball, from Scotland, says he believes everyone should be part of the festivities.

"Its lovely, beautiful to see people come together from different ethnicities, different corners of the world, and I think that's what Christmas is about - it is including everybody," said Jim Ball.

And the story of Harrow's multi-cultural Christmas is only one example of people from all corners of the world coming together for the holidays to share their gifts, stories, and cultures.

XS
SM
MD
LG