Diocese of Portsmouth

Celebrating Christmas in 2023

Thank you for joining us to celebrate the greatest news the world has ever known – the mind-blowing idea that God chose to share in the joys and sorrows of being human. 

We’ve met at carol services, nativities, Christmas fayres, and parties to celebrate and hear the story of how Jesus became a vulnerable baby, born in a humble stable, so that he could ultimately become our Saviour. Among the various ways that we celebrated were Christmas tree festivals, Nativity re-enactments and drama performances. Here's some details of services for the reminder of the Christmas season and also for Epiphany:

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Bishop Jonathan's Christmas message

Below is Bishop Jonathan's Christmas message for 2023, recorded in his home:

Carol services

We’ve remembered the birth of Jesus with carol service celebrations in our churches. There are still some services remaining in the Christmas and Epiphany season that you might be interested in. Click here to find out more.

‘Chalking the Doors’ at Epiphany

There are a few different traditions for when the Christmas season ends and decorations are taken down. Many think of the twelfth day of Christmas as the end of the season, which often coincides with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, whilst a large number of churches wait until Candlemas (which is on February 2 in 2024) to remove their nativity display, which falls on the day we remember the presentation of Jesus in the temple and is traditionally a day when candles are blessed and given out.

The tradition of ‘Chalking the Doors’: the inscription is an abbreviated Latin blessing on the house, surrounded by the year
The tradition of ‘Chalking the Doors’: the inscription is an abbreviated Latin blessing on the house, surrounded by the year

This year we are inviting churches and schools to engage with another tradition, called ‘Chalking the Doors’, where door lintels are marked with an inscription – “20 † C † M † B † 24” – during Epiphany. The inscription is partly a reference to the three Magi who visited Jesus (see Matthew 2:1-12), who are traditionally known as Casper, Melchior and Balthasar, but also to an abbreviated Latin blessing, Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “May Christ bless this house/dwelling”.

The Education team for Portsmouth and Winchester diocese have created resources to help schools and churches learn more about the tradition of Chalking the Doors: