News Release

Making Christmas Meaningful and Memorable

Christmas is a special time of year for millions of people living in New Zealand, Australia and other South Pacific nations. Even though the season is celebrated by different people in diverse ways, the underlying focus for many is to find ways to place "Christ" in Christmas.

Hundreds of thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) are finding ways to make Christmas meaningful and memorable — personally, as well as in their families and communities.

New Zealand family, the Arderns, make it a Christmas tradition to pray together on Christmas morning before they exchange gifts. According to Ian, the father, this helps remind them "of the spiritual significance of the Christmas season."

In this prayer the family members "give thanks for the greatest gift of all, the Atonement of our Saviour," he said.

Australians Holly and Chad, parents of three young daughters, look for ways to help the whole family learn that Christmas is more about giving than getting.

"This year our Mormon ward [congregation] is gathering Christmas foods and non-perishable items to make into hampers for families in need," Holly said.

"We dedicated one of our weekly family nights toward gathering items to donate. We explained this idea to our little girls and gave each of them $10 and took them to the supermarket.

"They each got a basket and began to search out their favourite foods and treats which they would buy with the $10. They understood that the foods were going into the hampers and were excited that perhaps someone else shared the same likes they did.

Holly says the girls chose butterfly stickers, chips, rice crackers, strawberry jam, yogurt top muesli bars and a few other items and then proudly lugged their heavy baskets to the checkout happily refusing their parents' help.

"On Sunday they took their bulging shopping bags to church," Holly adds. After presenting their gift bags to their local Mormon bishop, they "skipped all the way out to the car."
Hundreds of Latter-days Saints from throughout Auckland recently joined with other Christians from other faiths to celebrate the birth of Christ through song, in Auckland's Town Hall. Denominational and interfaith choirs led the packed house in Christmas standards such as Silent Night and O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Sydney Mormons have the chance this year to view a new display of Christian artwork at the Church's Carlingford site. Hundreds of Mormons, fellow Christians, and many others are enjoying the 24-piece collection of framed prints focusing on the birth, life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The exhibit is housed at Buckland House, situated at 756 Pennant Hills Road. Outside, in the grounds of the Mormons' Sydney Temple, every night leading up to Christmas visitors are enjoying a life-size Nativity display and a Christmas lights display featured on featured on 2GB Radio commentator Ray Hadley’s program.

"Taking the family to the Mormon temple grounds to see the lights is a tradition for many Sydney families," according to Alan Wakeley, a spokesman for the Church.

Last night hundreds of Latter-day Saints and guests enjoyed the annual Christmas program in the grounds of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. A local Mormon choir performed to Hon Phil Goff, New Zealand Opposition Leader, as well as other guests including Member of Parliament Sue Moroney. Tens of thousands of coloured lights adorn the trees and bushes in the temple grounds and choirs sing each night leading up to Christmas. There is also a Nativity display outside the Temple Visitors Centre.

Latter-day Saints around the world recently viewed the Church's First Presidency Christmas devotional via satellite and other means. The Church's worldwide leader, President Thomas S. Monson told the audience of around 20,000 in Salt Lake City and those watching around the world that "there is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ."

To learn more about what Latter-day Saints believe about Jesus Christ, click here and here.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.