During a previous Christmas season at Versailles United Methodist Church, people (and a service dog) attended a Blue Christmas candlelight service. This year’s service will be on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 p.m. Photo by Tammy Mares
In addition to other services, the Versailles United Methodist Church at 4 Church Street will hold a Blue Christmas Candlelight Service on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 p.m. Using an Advent wreath (pictured), Christians celebrate the four Sundays before Christmas. Photo by Tammy Mares
In addition to other services, the Versailles United Methodist Church at 4 Church Street will hold a Blue Christmas Candlelight Service on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 p.m. Photo by Tammy Mares
First Congregational and Central Baptist churches at 81 East Town St. in Norwich will celebrate YD on Sunday, December 11 at 10 a.m. Photo by Janet Jeffcoat
Early Congregational and Central Baptist churches at 81 East Town St. in Norwich display their Nativity set, which was made by church members and dedicated in 1976. Photo by Janet Jeffcoat
There is a sense of excitement at this time of year as families prepare to celebrate the upcoming holidays with a host of activities.
See “Holiday Lights Spectacular” at Olde Mistick Village at 27 Coogan Blvd. at Mystic from November 18 to the end of January 2023. This free event will feature the largest holiday light display in southern New England, according to oldemistickvillage.com/events. “Walk around the village with your pet on a leash even after the shops and restaurants have closed.”
On Saturday, December 3, Olde Mistick Village will host a Holiday Carnival from noon to 4 p.m. Santa Claus will be at the Meetinghouse, and singers and a marching band will perform holiday favorites. Then on Friday, December 9, the village will host the Festival of Lights from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.: the paths will be lit by lights, and entertainment will be offered.
“Light Up City Hall” will take place on Norwich’s “First Friday,” December 2 from 5-6 p.m. in the plaza at 100 Broadway. Join in the fun with Santa Claus, Jammin’ 107.7 FM Disc Jockey Pebbles (live stream), ventriloquist Donald Beebe and sing along with Sally Masse. The lighting of Norwich Town Hall will take place at 6 p.m.
Experience a “Leffingwell Christmas in the Colonies” at 348 Washington St. in Norwich on December 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (half-hour slots); prior registration is required. Admission: $5 per person. Register at Eventbrite.com or click the link on the Leffingwell House Museum Facebook page.
The event celebrates the history and evolution of Christmas traditions in America from the 17th century, when Christmas was virtually absent, to the 21st century when it has become one of the nation’s biggest holidays, the Leffingwell chairman said. House Museum, Dayne Rugh, in an email. .
“Visitors are invited to visit the Leffingwell House Museum where they will experience Christmas through the centuries in each of the ground floor rooms and will also be invited to sample traditional holiday treats.”
Many community members at this time of year are also busy collecting for those in need – food, blankets and toys, socks, coats, scarves, gloves, hats and hoodies for all ages. Often led by churches, these donations can also be dropped off at St. Vincent de Paul Place at 120 Cliff St. in Norwich.
In addition, the soup kitchen will provide a take-out roast beef dinner on Christmas Day, December 25, to those in need. Call 860-889-7374 on or after December 1 to reserve a meal. Pick up time is between 12:15 PM and 1:30 PM. People requesting delivery will be contacted one or two days before for a reminder. Those in need of Christmas gifts and toys can also call the soup kitchen.
On National Homeless Memorial Day, Wednesday, December 21 (Winter Solstice), the soup kitchen will hold a ceremony at 5:30 p.m., followed by a free dinner for all. “On this day, we commemorate those who died in 2022 who were homeless during their lifetime,” SVDPP executive director Jill Corbin said in a phone interview.
Religious services, practices and other events
The Jewish people will celebrate Chanukah this year from December 18-26. “Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day winter ‘Festival of Lights’, celebrated with nighttime lighting of the menorah, special prayers and fried foods,” according to chabad.org/holidays/Chanukah.
Others celebrate Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. One day is dedicated to each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economy, purpose, creativity and faith, according to britannica.com/topic/Kwanzaa.
Christians mark the four Sundays before Christmas by using an Advent wreath with candles and helping their children count the days until Christ’s birth in Bethlehem with an Advent calendar filled with chocolates or messages specials.
The First Congregational Church (FCC) and Central Baptist Church (CBC) at 81 East Town St. in Norwich are celebrating a reverse advent calendar from December 1 to 24, when they will be collecting preserves. Sunday services (no service on Christmas Day) are from 10-11 am, followed by a fellowship coffee.
A Christmas cookie walk and craft sale will take place on Saturday, December 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, December 11, FCC and CBC will hold a PJ Sunday service at 10 a.m. On the same day, they organize a Christmas concert at 2 p.m. (open to the public; voluntary offering). The concert will feature several soloists, as well as Douglas Green on organ, Margo Lewis on piano and Matthew Pirie playing light Christmas jazz music on piano. A reception will follow. All money raised that day will benefit children with cancer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
The Church Children’s Show is tentatively scheduled for December 18 at 10 a.m. A Christmas Eve service (December 24) will be held at 6 p.m. All services are streamed live on Facebook.
Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 294 Washington St. in Norwich, offers two Sunday services a week: a Creole worship service at 8:30 a.m. and a traditional English service at 10:30 a.m., which is also streamed live on Facebook. The first Sunday of every month they have a service in English combined with Communion at 10:30am.
Their children’s Christmas pageant will be celebrated on Sunday, December 18 at 10:30 a.m. A Christmas Eve (December 24) service will be held at 7 p.m. On Christmas Day, December 25, there will be a 10:30 a.m. service.
“Lee Memorial UMC will continue to share the love and peace of Jesus Christ with people, especially the poor, needy and lonely in our community,” Rev. Dr. Jung Sun Oh said in an email.
The following Catholic churches are among those holding in-person Sunday services: St. Mary Our Lady of the Rosary at 34 North Main St. in Jewett City. Sunday services: 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. New Year’s Eve services: 4 p.m. and midnight. Christmas Day Services: 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
St. Catherine of Siena, 243 Route 164 in Preston, Sunday Services: 10:00 a.m. Christmas Eve Service: 4:30 p.m. Christmas Day Service: 10:00 a.m.
Saints Thomas and Anne, 61 Preston City Rd., Voluntown. Sunday services: 9 a.m. Christmas Eve: 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Christmas Day: 9 a.m.
To see upcoming events and activities at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 213 Broadway in Norwich, go to cathedralofsaintpatrick.org/Resources/Sunday-Bulletin.
To learn more about church hours and activities, access their newsletters by going to parishesonline.com and inserting the name of the church, city, and state.
Long-time Norwich resident Jan Tormay now lives in Westerly.
The Blue Christmas Service is provided for those in mourning over the Christmas period – open to all.
Versailles United Methodist Church, located at 4 Church Street, will hold a Blue Christmas Candlelight Service on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 p.m.
“The music is more thoughtful. We serve Holy Communion for those who wish to participate. All are welcome at the table of Christ. They participate as much as they are comfortable… They light candles for their deceased loved ones. There are prayers and special lighting from an Advent wreath and a reflection given by the pastor,” while a blue spotlight is shone on the cross, Pastor Wanda J. Greaves said in an email. mail. “It is a service of remembrance, comfort and hope.”
Visitors can also write the names of loved ones or pets on blue paper-shaped angels and hang them on a blue Christmas tree at the back of the church.
Reverend Greaves said when she divorced in 1990 she went through a rough patch and there were no Blue Christmas services for her first solo Christmas.
“Also, my mother’s mother died when my mother was 13 and was buried on Christmas Eve. My mother was always sad at Christmas because it always reminded her of that sadness and pain. There was never any service that could have helped my mother during this time. That was a very big reason I started this service when I became a pastor.
She said that every year people tell her the service “heals” and ask when the Blue Christmas service will be held the following year.
The Christmas Eve candlelight service will take place on December 24 at 5 p.m. None of the services are broadcast live. Sunday services are at 10:30 a.m. (no service on Christmas Day).
In addition to collecting food for the Sprague Food Pantry and the Versailles United Methodist Church’s free outdoor food cabinet, the church will be hosting a Versailles Holiday Bake Sale on Saturday, November 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. h. A craft sale will also be held on Saturday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Table rental for vendors is $25. Call 860-822-6989 to reserve tables.)
Versailles UMC at 4 Church Street is located in the Versailles village of Sprague (on the GPS it appears as Baltic – another village in Sprague).
Greaves also leads Sunday services (including Christmas Day) at 8:30 a.m. at Bethel Community United Methodist Church, 1 Rixtown Road in Griswold.