Celebrating Christmas Around the World

Dec 24, 2002 05:44 PM EST

COOK SPRINGS, Ala. - The focus of the annual Christmas Around the World presentation was on Mexico, Switzerland and the Phillippines. This December, more than 2,500 children, students and adults spent four nights at WorldSong Missions Place, enjoying the six programs for school children, and two guided tours for senior adults and family nights on weekends.

"We had a nice turnout, and I think the people who came enjoyed seeing what Christmas is like in other countries," said Regina Howell, camp director at WorldSong, an Alabama Woman's Missionary Union facility in Cook Springs.

Christmas Around the World displays various Christmas celebrations and traditions from around the world, with featuring nativities from around the world, an ice carver, storytellers, a petting zoo, handcrafts from numerous countries, and thousands of beautiful lights to create a beautiful winters atmosphere.

Various samples of foods, different missionaries, and crafts from the highlighted countries this year, Mexico, Switzerland, and Philippines, provided an extra jolt to the excitement of the celebration.

Those who visited the Mexico Booth enjoyed making their own tortilla and performing the "Mexican Hat Dance." Dresses, hats and books from Mexico, provided by the volunteers from Calhoun Baptist Association, created a very realistic Mexican environment. One volunteer read a story about a child in Mexico, while another instructed visitors to make a "God's eye," a traditional Mexican Christmas decoration.

The visitors who stopped by Switzerland saw the Dan Howard family of Mountain View Baptist Church in Alexandria, and met some friends who demonstrated the Swiss Christmas spirit, all amid a snowy scene. Visitors were served hot cocoa and traditional cinnamon cookies. Some visitors made Christmas ornaments while others took a winter sled ride.

The visitors to the Philippines took part in an apple-eating contest in a Philippine hut, and tried "monkey bites," - traditional Philippine snacks made of bananas, chocolate, nuts and coconuts. Visitors were also able to meet Wendy Jennings, a missionary whose family serves in the Philippines.

"One of the biggest successes of this year was the guided tour and dinner for senior adults," Howell said. "More than a month before the event, we sold out of tickets for the senior adult tour and constantly had people wanting to get in. As a result, next year we plan to add more opportunities to come to a guided tour and dinner for senior adults."

A talking Christmas tree, along with the fireworks show provided a spectacular celebration against the beautifully lighted sceneries.

"We have had people come from all over Alabama just to see the lights and what Christmas is like in other countries," Howell said. "People have really enjoyed the nativities from around the world housed in our adult retreat center. And I think the missionaries have been a special delight for many."

By Paulina C.