There are those who love it, those who hate it, and those who see it as just another day.
Then there are those who choose to celebrate the more “commercial” side of it, with presents and Santa Claus, and others who still observe it in a religious way.
The tendency to place more importance on the former aspect is ever more common, even among Christians, and the birth of Jesus Christ is given different weight than years ago.
Virgilio Marcianò will once again bring the religious meaning back to Christmas with his event, Walk Through Bethlehem.
The living installation will take place from December 21 to 23 at St Peter’s Catholic Primary School in Epping, where it was moved to in 2015, with the support of Director of School Community, Emma Canning.
Ms Canning shared with us how the students are involved in the event and their thoughts on it.
“As the children see Bethlehem being built in their school, they’re able to have a deeper understanding of the Christmas story and what it’s all about,” she said.
There is a strong community spirit surrounding this event, and many people voluntarily participate in the construction of the “city” and the acting of various roles.
Many students and their families also take part in the event, coming together in the spirit of Christmas.
The first phase of planning began in February, while the installation is set up from the beginning of December.
The event features many unique props and details which transform the school into Bethlehem as it would have in Jesus’ time.
Cute creatures including camels, horses, cows, donkeys and other farm animals also star in the event.
“There are all of the animals that you would’ve seen in Bethlehem 2000 years ago,” Ms Canning said.
The replica of Bethlehem stars characters such as Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men, along with guards, commoners and artisans showing off their products.
All of the characters are played by local volunteers: in general, the key roles are given to those who have committed to the event for years, while those “secondary” roles are rotated depending on availability.
The only actor who changes each year is, obviously, the baby who plays Jesus.
“Opening night last year, my little girl played Jesus and that’s now a memory that I cherish,” Ms Canning recalled.
The director explains that, despite the thousands of people who make the journey through Bethlehem over the three nights, there is always a “peaceful” atmosphere.
On all three nights, the school’s gates open at 7:30 pm, and visitors can enjoy live entertainment, family fun activities and dinner and drinks.
The gates to Bethlehem open at around 9:00 pm, when the sun sets, to create the right atmosphere and make the experience as realistic as possible.
Visitors can make a small donation at the gates, with all proceeds covering the cost of the event and any extra money going towards the next year’s edition.
The main objective of this event is to help foster a sense of community and bring families together.
During the planning, setting up, execution and packing up, volunteers work together and do their bit depending on their availability and capacity.
We believe that this is the real Christmas spirit.
For more information, call 0477 942 254 or visit the event’s Facebook page. Produced and directed by Virgilio Marcianò, the event will take place at 32 Wedge Street, Epping.