Christmas can be a stressful time for Sunday School teachers when deciding who to pick for nativity roles, but one Lanarkshire church has gone the extra mile by recruiting three live camels and a donkey for their festive celebrations.
The animals will be accompanying Mary, Joseph and the three wise men in the United Parish of Carstairs and Carstairs Junction nativity parade on Saturday 18th December, as the area becomes a winter wonderland for the day.
Minister Reverend Alan Gibson said the eyebrow-raising event was designed to share the Christmas message with people in the local community who would not normally come to church: “Rather than waiting for people daring to cross the threshold of the church door, we thought we had to take the Christmas message outside.
“The parade has been designed to represent the nativity story in an engaging and thought-provoking way.
“We hope that people in our communities will get into the spirit of things, and share in the joy of Jesus’ birth.”
In another interesting twist, both ends of Carstairs will be transformed, with the Junction becoming Nazareth, and the village turning into Bethlehem.
Mr Gibson explained: “All of the street signs will be changed to reflect this, and every house along the parade route will have “no room” displayed.
“We will set off from the Junction end, with schoolchildren, adults, the camels and the donkey.
“In the village, there will be a sense of excitement and anticipation about Jesus’ birth, just as there was over 2,000 years ago.
”We are having a Christmas market on the village green, with a choir singing carols and a manger scene, and the procession will arrive around 3pm.
Mr Gibson said he had been overwhelmed by the support within the community: “It has been phenomenal how everybody has helped to make this possible.
“The two local primary schools have been great, people in the neighbourhood, the police, the local council, even the local football team are dressing up as Roman soldiers for the day.
“The local parent and toddler group, which has no affiliation to the church whatsoever, is setting up a Santa’s grotto, and will be serving mulled wine for the adults as well as teas and coffees.”
Biscuit giants Tunnocks have also come on board, donating 2,000 of their delicious caramel wafers to help with publicity for the big day.
But instead of the traditional packets, they have produced special limited edition “camel” wafers with the date and time of the parade on the back.
Mr Gibson said they would be given away free of charge to members of the local community.
It is hoped that as well as joining the communities together, many will feel encouraged and challenged to think about the birth of Jesus over the Christmas period.