Christmas, the feast of a worldwide family:
Christmas parties and lunches
with the Community of Sant'Egidio
In Italy and around the World
Christmas lunch with the poor has been a tradition of the Community of Sant'Egidio since 1982, when a small group of poor people was welcomed around the table of celebration in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. They were about 20 invited: there were some elderly people of the district, of which we were friends for a long time, that that day would have been left alone, and some homeless people known on the streets of Rome.
Since that first lunch of 1982 the board was enlarged from year to year and from Trastevere has reached many parts of the world, wherever there is the Community.
An e special Christmas last year that involved over 100,000 people in five continents, people living on the streets, in schools, prisons. Many people already friends of Sant'Egidio and many more that join in for the party.
The festival is done in churches, in homes, but also in institutions for the elderly, children, disabled, prisons, hospitals, even in the streets. Because the effect is to bring the party - even in the darkest corners, the coldest, most remote and forgotten - in the conviction that Christmas is the happiest day of the year, but it can also become a sad time for those in need.
The festival begins on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with many dinners in the street with the homeless. In the cold Northern cities, from Moscow to Antwerpen to Paris, where, between the lights and signs, many poor people are alone, or in poor cities of the South.
Even there, the food, a simple gift, a small crib, Christmas tree, music, and above all friendship, joy, attention to each, are the "ingredients" of a party full of beauty because full of love. The festival has been expanding over the years, as a beneficial infection, and has also reached many developing countries in all continents of the world. Beautiful celebrations, in many cases organized with very few resources and a strong commitment of young people who live mostly in poverty if not in countries struck by war.
Last year in America thousands of people partied in El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile and also in Cuba, where teenagers who grow up with the community have organized and run a lunch for the elderly.
In many cities in Indonesia, which is the most populous Muslim country in the world, the invitation of the Community is a time of celebration and friendship between different religious communities. This also in Pakistan. But also in many places in Africa will arrive the joy of the feast: In Mozambique Christmas will be celebrated in many towns, involving street children, beggars, lepers, blind, poor families and many prisoners.
In Africa, poverty shows particularly severe in prisons. In most cases there are no beds, no toilets and the cells are overcrowded. The hygienic conditions are very bad: one can get sick easily and sometimes dies. The food supplied by the prison is inadequate. Those who do not have relatives who carry the food, suffer hunger. For this reason, many African communities, Mozambique, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, not only regularly visit prisoners, but on Christmas day prepare a meal that is for many the only true dining throughout the year.
In Ivory Coast, even in this difficult time, in Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, celebrates with the blind beggars and street children.
And it is significant that, despite the limited means at their disposal, African communities will reach with Christmas lunches tens of thousands of people, more than in Europe alone.
Christmas lunch in Santa Maria in Trastevere
Christmas cakes, seasonal fruit, sparkling wine
Then ... Santa Claus!
Christmas in Rome : Some 10,000 people involved (about 2000 guests in Trastevere)
Christmas in Italy: among the many cities: Genoa, Messina, Bari, Milan, Florence, Turin, Novara, Padova, Napoli, Catania, Cosenza, Palermo, Trieste, Reggio Calabria, and more ....
Christmas nel Mondo: More than 500 cities worldwide in over 70 countries.
Europe (Spain, Germany, Russia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, France, Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Albania ...)
Americas (El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti, USA, Canada, Brazil ...)
Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe ...)
Asia (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Cambodia….)