Belfast Telegraph

Banbridge is only council in UK to mention Christ in its Christmas card

By Cate McCurry

A Co Down town has been dubbed the most religious place in the UK as it is the only council surveyed to contain a reference of Christ in its Christmas card.

While most other councils took a more inclusive approach to their festive cards, Banbridge councillors opted for a Christian card which mentioned the birth of Christ.

According to a survey carried out by the Christian Institute, barely half of councils across the UK send cards or other greetings specifically mentioning Christmas.

Banbridge residents should receive a card which reads: "As we celebrate the Birth of Christ may God's Love be with you this Christmas season and evermore."

However, councils have been accused of forgetting the true meaning of Christmas with many stating "seasons greetings" and others wishing people "all the best for the festive period" on their annual card.

Marie Hamilton, chair of Banbridge council, said: "I don't think that there should be a need to apologise that Christmas is a Christian festival.

"I didn't expect to be the only council to have a religious reference, it was a personal choice and as a Christian I'm surprised no one made any connections between Christ and Christmas on their cards. I've no idea why others chose not to."

The SDLP councillor added: "I wouldn't see Banbridge council as being more religious than any other council. I was quite happy to have a religious verse on my card.

"I was asked if I wanted a religious message so I said yes."

David Herron, a DUP councillor for Banbridge, said he was surprised at the lack of religious mentions on council cards.

"Is that not what Christmas is about? Not just commercialisation or socialising or buying and selling and receiving but it's about the greatest gift of all which is the birth of Christ," he added.

He said it was a unanimous decision within the council to have a religious connotation on its Christmas cards.

Each of the 17 councillors receives 25 cards to send to relatives and friends for the Christmas holidays. However, the councillor admitted to not knowing the amount of money spent on posting the 425 cards.

"I don't know how much we spend on it but it wouldn't be that desperate an amount. Maybe that's something we should ask. If you got a card like that we wouldn't be scrabbling about the price.

"We send most of ours to relatives and people we are friendly with.

"I didn't know we were the only council in the UK to have a religious Christmas card but I'm pleased and delighted we are.

"It would be hard for me to say whether they will continue that tradition in the newly amalgamated council next year but I would like to think they would." Not every council was included in the survey of 200 UK local authorities.

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