Most nations have their own way of celebrating Christmas, with customs and food – And there was a chance for local children to taste each other’s culture on Wednesday 19 December with an international family party.

There was festive fun at St John’s Church Hall, in Widnes, as local children enjoyed the Halton Borough Council supported Christmas event – with the REAL Father Christmas, who took a break from toy making and elf supervising, to make a personal appearance!

Children who originate from Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Syria attended.

There was a Christmas buffet, with people brining food from their different countries. Games included pass the parcel, 12 days of Christmas, drawing a snowman competition, raffle, singing Christmas Carols in different languages ( Polish, English) and Father Christmas.

The International Family Club – Rainbow Umbrella – meets once a month on Wednesday evenings, from 4 30pm to 6 30pm. at the venue but this will be a special Yuletide event which also includes games and food from different countries.

Cllr Keith Morley, who has always supported the group, said: “There is such a supportive atmosphere. And I would encourage anyone to join us, or if you know a family that will be interested, please contact us by email or phone or come along to our meetings.

“It is a very welcoming group. It is great to try food from different countries and share Christmas customs.”

Cllr Marie Wright, another long term supporter said: “The council has helped this group, and it has some great volunteers who organise events each month. It’s a great atmosphere. It works both ways we learn a lot about customs form their countries and they learn more about ours.”

In the regular meetings, families of different nationalities, mostly from Poland, also from Turkey and Slovakia, living in Halton meet up: the children play together or do arts and crafts with Halton Borough Council Children’s Centre staff.

There are also opportunities to discuss useful subjects like healthcare, Brexit and education opportunities.

Rainbow Umbrella Leader Elżbieta (Ela) Orlińska, said: “Parents have a chance to chat with each other, exchange information about what is going on in Halton, etc. It is a real support network as well as a social highlight. Our Christmas meeting is always a highlight.

“Everyone seem s to leave with smiles on their faces.”

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The next meeting is on Wednesday, 30th January. New families always welcome.