Richmond Centre Teaches Christmas To All

Most of us probably feel like Christmas is universal at times — it’s so all encompassing at shopping centers and in the media that it’s easy to forget that plenty of people don’t celebrate.

But what about those who want to, but haven’t had the chance? Richmond Centre, for instance, serves a population that includes many recent immigrants to Canada. Christmas may well seem impenetrable to those who haven’t grown up with it — a man dressed in red breaks into your house to leave presents, and fills up the socks you nail to the fireplace? Everyone gives each other fruitcake and yet no one seems to like it? It’s all a bit mysterious when you look at it with fresh eyes.

So the center set itself to making sure this Christmas would include everyone who wanted to join in the holiday fun. On its holiday microsite, it offers an “Encyclopedia of Christmas” filled with charming (but accurate) explanations of most Christmas traditions. For example, from the entry on Goodwill:

“Goodwill, in this Christmas context, simply means friendliness. If you ever gave up the swing for someone in the playground, you exhibited goodwill. If you ever shoveled snow from your neighbour’s sidewalk, you exhibited goodwill. Similarly when adults wave nicely to each other in rush hour traffic, they’re exhibiting goodwill. The topic of goodwill is worth dwelling on during Christmas because it’s what the “Spirit of Christmas” is all about. Like love, tolerance and compassion, goodwill is a gift you can’t wrap, but one of the nicest to receive.”

It’s also a great primer for anyone who’s ever been confused by some of the more regional Christmas traditions like Yule logs or Christmas crackers. And for the little ones, there are child-friendly explanations of Santa and his gift giving traditions.

For shoppers on location, the center is offering regular “School of Christmas” sessions – fun trips into the lore and facts of Christmas as taught by Santa’s crew of elves.

Speaking of the elves, Richmond Centre went all out for its elves this year. Santa has brought nearly 40 of them along, and the center is doing its best to give them all some time in the spotlight. Online, it’s seeking votes for the very best elves, who will be crowned Prince and Princess of the elves this Friday. In the center, shoppers can talk to the elves to collect their trading cards. Richmond Centre is selling a special trading card book for serious collectors, too.

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