Our Christmas Star

A few years ago I noticed that Stamford Hill had no civic sparkle. The Christmas lights stopped at Stoke Newington Church Street heading North on the A10 out of the City. Individual flats and houses obviously had trees and wreaths and some had a Chanukah Menorah but it was as though the Grinch had stolen Christmas on the Hill.

Maybe it was Hackney Council economising or not wishing to impose Christian pieties, however vestigial, on the local Jewish community. Still it was a pity, I thought. Everyone loves a twinkling light.

At St Thomas’ we decided we would address this deficiency ourselves. We would take it into our own hands and illuminate our church tower.

I had in mind a flashing inflatable Father Christmas being pulled up by a fleet of reindeer to the sound of amplified sleigh bells. I wondered whether we could even straddle our sol et lumière installation across two faces of the tower.

When I brought my proposal to the Parish Church Council I did not find a great deal of support. My churchwardens pointed out that I would probably need the Diocesan Conservation Officer’s permission. Mention of the Diocesan Conservation Officer was enough to dampen enthusiasm for my proposed Santa, trailing sacks of bounty as he came.

“Why don’t we start with a simple star?” suggested Mrs Browne, “five points for the five wounds of Christ, that kind of thing. Something, er… Christian?”

So I had a word with Mr Crafer on the Terrace who designed for us an elegant Pentagram with solar powered bulbs and a system of ropes that allowed him to suspend it from the lower parapets without having to anchor it to the face of our listed building. Before the first Sunday of Advent he gets out his ladder and attaches it to our tower, as though he’s wrapping a huge stucco parcel with an illuminated bow.

Our environmental champion is happy; the diocesan conservation officer is happy; my Parish Church Council is happy and the residents along the terrace are happy. So too is the local rabbi, who now has plans for a 12 foot Menorah outside his synagogue.

The only person who is not happy is the local paganist. She tells me that the five pointed star was originally a pagan symbol for fertility but it was stolen by Christians. Apparently it’s all in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. I guess you can’t please everyone.

Happy Christmas!