Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures
Monthly Archives: December 2013

We Wish You A Beary Merry Christmas!

by Elspeth

The Bears in the Windows wish you all a magical day and hope, in the words of the bestselling song of all-time, that ‘your days will be merry and bright and all your Christmases will be white!’  

Now that Christmas has become so commercialised, it’s easy to forget that it is actually a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus and not just about expensive presents, drunken office parties and frantic shopping, often resulting in maxed out credit cards.

Every year, in nurseries, schools and churches all over the world, children act out their own charming versions of the Christmas story.  I’m sure you’ll all have fond memories of such occasions, especially the times when something went wrong!  My father, who was headmaster of a local school, always thoroughly enjoyed his infant department’s annual nativity play, although one year he found it difficult to keep a straight face after spotting that the manger was a cardboard box emblazoned with the words, ‘Daddy’s Favourite Sauce’! 

When I was a child, my church’s junior choir staged a musical version of the nativity story in the church every Christmas Eve.  During the four years I was part of this illustrious group, I was cast as a villager (the equivalent of a member of the chorus), then a page to one of the Wise Men (only slightly better than a villager), before moving on to a ‘starring’ role as one of the Wise Men, although I don’t remember which one.  However, in my final year I reached the pinnacle of my ambitions when I was cast as one of the angels of the heavenly host!

Many years later, although no longer a regular churchgoer, I worked in Israel for several months and travelled all over the country visiting places I’d read about in the Bible as a child.  The Church of Scotland Hospice in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee where I worked was only a short bus journey from Nazareth where the Christmas story began.  I would often go there on my day off, just as I would go to Troon or Glasgow today and, although the purpose of my visit was usually to do some shopping – the shops in Tiberias sold a fairly limited range of goods – or to have a snack of freshly made pitta bread and humus in one of the town’s many cafés, on several occasions, I visited the Basilica of the Annunciation, built on the spot where the Angel Gabriel is supposed to have told Mary that she was with child.  It was a beautiful building, modern in design, with a spectacular 170 feet high cupola which illuminated the church with natural light.  Of the many churches I visited during my time in the Holy Land, this was probably my favourite. 

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, said to have been built on the site of the stable where Jesus was born, on the other hand, was probably my least favourite.  Having watched the Watchnight Service on television on many occasions, I was really disappointed to find that Manger Square, in which the Church of the Nativity is located, was unremarkable and could have been anywhere in the world.  The church, however, had two distinctive features.  One was the extremely low entrance called the Door of Humility, created in Ottoman times to prevent carts being driven in by looters and to force even the most important visitors to dismount from their horses as they entered the holy place.  The other was the silver star in the Grotto of the Nativity, a rectangular cavern beneath the church, which is supposed to mark the exact spot where Jesus was born.  Although the church was far too ornate for my liking, nonetheless, I still count myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity of seeing it.

Creating a Nativity window is always very straightforward as several years ago, Boyds, an American company which specialises in character bears, brought out a set consisting of a stable, an ursine Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, a camel and a lamb to which, this year, I added a donkey and three King penguins!  Once all the cuddly characters are in position, I finish off my Christmas tableau by putting a little teddy star on top of the stable, although he doesn’t make a particularly good job of leading the shepherds and the wise men to the stable as he invariably falls off which means they have to rely on their sat navs for directions!     




by Elspeth

According to Chinese tradition, giant pandas are named when they’re 100 days old.  And so, at a ceremony held today at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to celebrate their panda cub’s first 100 days of life, it was announced that her name was Bao Bao!

Bao Bao, which means ‘treasure’ or ‘precious’ in English, was one of five Mandarin Chinese names offered for a public online vote in which more than 100,000 people took part.  The incredibly cute baby panda, who is expected to remain in Washington for four years before going to live at Wolong, will make her public debut in January 2014.  I can’t wait to see her!


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