At 6pm on Christmas Eve, will you be on your doorstep, ringing sleigh bells for Santa and spreading Christmas cheer down your street? What started as a casual suggestion on a local Yorkshire Facebook group has turned into a global movement to bring communities together this Christmas. Is this the start of a new Christmas Eve Jingle annual tradition?
2020 has certainly been a year quite unlike any other, with many of us experiencing tremendous challenge, grief and hardship. Throughout this worldwide rollercoaster however, the one constant has been that community spirit, brought to life in a kaleidoscope of different ways and acts of kindness across the globe.
Inspired by the Italian weekly serenades, we clapped and cheered our way through each Thursday of the Spring Lockdown. And now, it appears we are just as eager to bring that sense of togetherness back to the fore over the festive period.
The Jingle Lady
The lady behind the Jingle? Mary Beggs-Reid, of Harrogate. A certified Christmas movie enthusiast – ‘It would’t be unusual to find me and my son watching Polar Express in July!’. And, it was whilst enjoying Christmas classic Elf one day in mid-October that Mary’s mind started whirring.
‘I absolutely love that part at the end of the movie when they all sing together to raise Christmas cheer. It occurred to me that it would be great if we could get people doing something like that on my street this year. I knew people might feel too embarrassed to sing so was trying to think of something else when I came up with the idea of bells.’
‘It was for the children really. They’ve had such a rubbish year and have kept plodding on regardless. I just wanted something nice for them to look forward to. I was aiming for something for my road, or maybe even Harrogate as a whole but, I had no idea what a great response it would get.’
The idea spread fast within the county. Then, on 23 October, another Yorkshire lady (who has asked to remain anonymous) shared the idea publicly on her Facebook feed and things went viral! The post received well over 100,000 shares in under 24 hours. ‘I never ever expected this to blow up like it has. I just wanted to help re-ignite children’s excitement for the Christmas period.’
The rest, as they say, is history! Facebook groups sprouted up at pace, eager to capture and nurture the festive enthusiasm. Broadcasters started to share the idea on their shows. And, small businesses added personalised sleigh bells to the Christmas offerings this year. In fact, Mary told us how one local store-owner had joked that he couldn’t get hold of sleigh bells for his store anymore due to a national shortage! ‘That’s your fault Mary!’ – he’s probably right!
Christmas is Not Cancelled
‘I think one of the reasons the idea has been so popular is that it can’t be cancelled’, explains Mary. ‘So many things have been affected this year and plans changed, but, whatever tier you are in and whether you are isolating or not, you are definitely able to join in with the Christmas Eve Jingle.’
And it’s not just the children who are excited about this event. Mary shared some of the messages she and others had received, following the creation of a group to spread the word.
‘People who’ve been alone since March have reached out to say how much they’ve enjoyed connecting with others again, all across the globe. Others have shared all sorts of fabulous things they are doing in their local area to spread Christmas Cheer. It’s amazing and truly humbling. We just want to get as many people involved as possible.’
Christmas Eve Jingle Around The World
Well, it would appear that it is mission accomplished on that front! Communities all over the world are creating their own Jingle groups and finding ways to extend the festivities. ‘We’ve seen people sharing the idea from the US to the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines’, says Mary. ‘It’s incredible. We’re hoping that we can create a rolling wave of bells all across the world on Christmas Eve. It makes me feel very emotional when I stop to think about it!’
Local networks Greatest Hits Radio and Hits Radio have come on board to support the Jingle. In addition to promoting the event on the radio, they are selling sleigh bells to get people ready for the night, with 100% of the net proceeds going to charity Cash for Kids. You can find all the details here.
Around the UK
A group in Wales, set up by Jodie from Newport, are proposing a Christmas singalong afterwards; we can’t wait to hear those beautiful Welsh Choir voices! Like Mary, Jodie couldn’t get over the response when she first shared the idea with her local area. ‘I just wanted to get the neighbours involved. I have a seven year old son and wanted the bell ring to be loud enough to be heard, and really make him and other children believe that Santa was on his way. But, I woke up the next morning and there were thousands of responses and people wanting to get involved. It’s the way people have taken to the idea and then, through being connected, shared all sorted of other ways to make people’s Christmases more special as well.’
Another group in Scotland, lead by two mums from Carronshore Falkirk, Terri & Lauren, are looking to raise money for Maggie’s cancer treatment centre in the Forth Valley whilst spreading Christmas Eve Jingle joy. They have teamed up with local singer Dionne Hickey in hope of raising sufficient funds to cover the running of the centre for Christmas Eve.
Terri told us, ‘If we work together, we can make wonderful things happen. And, after the miserable year we have had, a little happiness is just what we need!’ For more information, and details of how to donate, visit the group here (and please do get in contact with Terri & Lauren directly if you can help provide bells to make that Jingle stretch even further!).
Back in Harrogate, we asked Mary how she will be enjoying the evening? ‘I’ve got a set of bells for us, and told my family that these are now a special heirloom – the original set of Christmas Eve Jingle bells. And, I’ve told my husband he needs to start calling me Mary Christmas now too!’
Well Mary, you certainly are going to give a lot of people a very Merry Christmas; thank you!
Let’s make sure Santa has all the Christmas Cheer he needs for his deliveries this year! Spread the word in your local community by printing out and popping this poster in your front window or sharing the event on Facebook. Get your sleigh bells here and support charity Cash for Kids at the same time. And, don’t forget to set your alarm for 6pm local time on Christmas Eve.
Click here for more heart-warming Acts of Christmas Kindness. Want to create a magical festive front door to frame your Christmas Eve Jingle? Click here to learn our golden rule and you’ll have a Winter Wonderland outside your door in no time!