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Durham City Nativity

It’s an old adage that no man (or woman, I hasten to add) is an island.  Equally, though, sometimes it’s really easy to feel isolated. Even when you’re surrounded by friends, moving to University is nevertheless a total change of environment. As the festive season draws near, homesickness may well creep up on you when you least expect it…and the stress of end-of-term deadlines won’t be much help, either.

The best remedy for homesickness is to develop your roots in a new place – to accept that it may be different from what you are used to, but nevertheless to embrace the opportunities which it offers.

Luckily, Durham has these in droves. Particularly in the festive season, it positively shines (if you’ll pardon the pun)! Shop windows are already starting to show hints of festivity…but you’ve seen nothing yet. Buckle down, because Christmas is coming. From the switching on of the lights to the ginormous Christmas Market, there’s a multitude of choices to put you in the seasonal spirit. The local festive traditions are well-established, and they’re a great way to begin participating in the local community.

Personally – as you’ve probably guessed – I adore Christmas. However, the build-up to the end of term is always a difficult time: between tiredness, stress, and the sadness of missing family festive celebrations, I’m known to get a little bit teary… This year, I was determined that it would be different.

Knowing how much I enjoy celebrating the festive season, I volunteered to get involved in the annual Durham nativity; I thought that making some hot chocolates, putting up some lights, and perhaps shepherding a few children would make me feel a bit more involved in local life.

Less than a week after offering my services, I was being measured up for a costume. And not just any costume…the costume worn by a certain character named Mary.

Really, I oughtn’t to have been surprised: this is Durham, after all, and the unexpected is guaranteed to happen (I have, after all, been a dragon tamer multiple times). Still, I couldn’t help but be shocked when I saw the health and safety assessment…querying the risks involved in parading live camels and donkeys around Market Square.

Luckily for the people of Durham, both the aforementioned beasts have passed their official health and safety test. Along with local schoolchildren (and a certain bemused third-year English undergraduate), they’ll be gracing the Marketplace this Thursday on the 6th December, at 6pm, for an open-air performance. It’s free to attend (as is the hot chocolate afterwards, naturally). Jokes of questionable quality, live music, and even audience participation… I may be biased, but I really don’t know what else you could ask for. After all, it’s a truly cheesy Christmas celebration!

The Durham City Nativity Facebook page will provide updates on opportunities to participate or to attend!

And, once the term ends, remember that you’re not alone if you stay in Durham. Multiple local restaurants – and the Castle itself – offer Christmas meals; there’s no need to spend the occasion alone! After all, it’s the season of goodwill…and you’d be surprised at the amount of genuinely lovely people you will meet.

We have a few festive blogs about Christmas in Durham including Kimberley’s experience of a traditional Christmas lunch at the Castle last year!

Check out all the activities the University has to offer here as well as other events in the city here.


Emily Smith

Hi I’m Emily, as befits a recent English graduate, I was Collingwood College’s student Librarian when I was in Durham (I hope to return soon to study more). You’ll usually find me, for either work or play, buried in archives researching the obscure, the niche, and the forgotten…and sometimes wrangling dragons.

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