The Canberra Times

Christmas Church ServicesAdvertising Feature

Christmas is the perfect time to get in the spirit of givingAdvertising Feature

Christmas is a time of celebration, a chance to spend time with family and loved ones and extend kindness to others. For Christians, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year and is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

It is also a time of spiritual reflection on the important foundations of the Christian faith, and many churches will have special programs throughout December.

In her 2020 Christmas message Dr Deidre Palmer, who was president of the Uniting Church in Australia, said, "As we approach this Christmas what matters most is not the gifts, the decorations or even the Christmas carols that we so enjoy, what matters most is the love we share with each other, the friendship and community that gives us life. The central message of Christmas is that we are loved. We are loved by the God who comes to us in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ who lights up our lives and world with a message of peace, love and hope."

Christmas is a time for generosity to others less fortunate than ourselves. Here are just a few suggestions.

True meaning of Christmas: The spirit of Christmas is often said to be found in the act of giving without the thought of getting. Photo: Shutterstock

Make a toy donation

The Smith Family's Toy and Book Appeal helps children who may otherwise miss out on opening a gift simply because their families can't afford it.

This year a digital gift voucher will be provided to every child who would ordinarily receive a gift pack so that they can participate in the joys of Christmas.

The Save the Children online shop is where you can give a family the gift of a flock of chickens or buy a bicycle to help a health worker provide life-saving support. Your contribution will help disadvantaged children around the world to grow up safe, healthy and educated, and provide them with life-saving support during emergencies.

Find out more at shop.savethechildren.org.au.

Barnardos is hoping to receive 10,000 presents for the children in their programs, some of whom have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness and do not usually get the chance to receive Christmas gifts.

Your gift donation will give a disadvantaged child the opportunity to open a present on Christmas Day.

Just pick a gift online or donate. Find out more at barnardos.org.au/get-involved/gift-for-kids.

Songs for Koalas

Help a koala this Christmas without spending anything. One of the supporters of The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has put together a free playlist of essential Christmas songs, including an original song called The Lights of Christmas.

Every listen to that song earns a small royalty, and the owner is donating the total amount of royalties to AKF.

So for some Christmas tunes, go to Spotify and search for The Australian Koala Foundation.

Add some international flavour to your Christmas dinnerAdvertising Feature

Christmas is celebrated around the world in a thousand different ways, but what many countries have in common is enjoying delicious food.

In Australia, it's all about the summer salads, seafood and cooking on the barbie, but here are a few ideas to add a little bit of international flavour to your table.

Bring a taste of France to your Christmas fare with some caviar or smoked salmon on blinis to begin your meal. Oysters can also be served as an appetiser along with Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops with herbs and cheese served in little shells). Other festive treats include foie gras and turkey stuffed with chestnuts.

Also for some, no Christmas meal would be complete without a glass of Champagne or two.

Christmas fare: Add a little bit of international flavour to your table this Christmas with some traditional recipes. Photo: Shutterstock

In the UK, most Christmas dinners will feature turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, lashings of gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables such as carrots, turnips and parsnips.

If you don't enjoy turkey, chicken, roast beef, or ham can also be served. For vegetarians, a nut roast complements all the classic roast dinner trimmings.

Love them or hate them; it's not Christmas dinner unless there are brussel sprouts. This controversial vegetable comes into season in winter but can be found almost year-round in supermarkets.

Some cooks like to boil them until they almost disintegrate, and others prefer them al dente. If you have never enjoyed sprouts, why not try them roasted with balsamic vinegar, garlic, bacon and a sprinkle of roasted almonds on top. Simply delicious.

Add a little touch of drama to the end of your meal and pour brandy over your pudding, and light it up. For a better flame, gently warm up the brandy first. Just make sure all flammable objects are moved away first.

In Iceland, roast lamb is the traditional dish, while it's a delicious ham in Sweden.

Suckling pig is served in Puerto Rico, and in Portugal, Christmas dinner usually features cod and potatoes.

Originating from North America, eggnog is a favourite festive tipple. It's made from milk, cream, bourbon, nutmeg or cinnamon and eggs whites.

The Christmas Stollen (Christstollen) comes from Germany; it's a delicious fruit cake packed with dried fruit and marzipan that melts in your mouth.

Panettone from Italy is also equally scrumptious. Recognised by its domed shape, panettone is more a bread than a cake. Its sweet dough is studded with candied fruits and raisins. It often comes beautifully wrapped and can make a lovely gift.

Did you know?

In Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken is synonymous with Christmas.

Thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign in the 1970s, Japanese people have celebrated Christmas by eating KFC chicken.