Christmas draws Albanian children ‘together for a birthday’

Local Christian radio station (Radio 7), Youth With a Mission, local churches and other Christian organisations including World Vision organised choir performances with some 140 children from Tirana primary schools, as well as drama and an art exhibition for children from Tirana.

Many children heard Christmas carols and watched the drama about Jesus’ birth for the first time.

During 50 years of Communism and the previous 500 years of Ottoman occupation, Christmas was replaced by a secular New Year\'s celebration.

This is now changing slowly and initiatives like this celebration are helping children to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Many children heard Christmas carols and watched the drama about Jesus’ birth for the first time “This is my first time here and I don’t know what to expect”, said energetic six-year-old, Ermal Hasandoci.

“I know that Christmas is a sacred holiday. It is the day when Jesus was born”, said 11-year-old Anxhelina Kulla.

The celebration was held for the second time in Albania, this year with the theme “Together for a Birthday”.

On a brightly lit circus stage, special invitations were extended to young children to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

On 23 December, two drama teams with 25 students from Tirana joined children in World Vision’s Lezha and Elbasan Area Development Programmes to celebrate Christmas together.

I know that Christmas is a sacred holiday “We hope that Christmas celebrations will become a tradition in Albania. This event will set a standard for all future Christmas celebrations”, said Anita Paza, Christian Commitment Coordinator for World Vision Albania.

World Vision contributed some US$3,400 to the event and invited 25 students from Tirana to celebrate Christmas with children in Griqan Poshte village, Elbasan and Gryke Manati village, Lezha.

The event gained keen interest from the media while the Mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, awarded the winners of the drawings contest.

World Vision and partners plan to organise a similar event next year, with the hope that public schools and the city will initiate a Christmas celebration the following year as a year-end tradition for children in Tirana and across Albania.