ONLY one third of primary schools now hold traditional nativity
plays, a survey of parents suggests. And children are more likely
to be cast as aliens, fairies, pumpkins, and sprouts than Mary or
Joseph. They are more likely to sing Christmas-themed songs than
About 2000 users of the parenting website Netmums reported their
experiences of school Christmas plays. Two-thirds were unhappy that
their child's school had stopped holding a traditional nativity
Only one in five felt that the nativity was "unimportant". A
further 13 per cent said that they would teach their child the
Christmas story at home.
The survey found that most schools now preferred to hold a
"winter celebration", "seasonal play", or end-of-term concert
instead of a traditional nativity play.
"New, modern Christmas plays have a whole host of characters,"
according to the Netmums' website, "so that, instead of shepherds
and angels, children are just as likely to be cast as aliens,
recycling bins, a Sir Alan Sugar-style 'Lord Christmas', punk
fairies, Elvis, footballers, a lobster, a napkin, carrots, sprouts,
and a drunken spaceman."
The co-founder of Netmums, Siobhan Freegard, said: "While the UK
is a diverse and multicultural society, and it's right children
learn about all religions and cultures, many parents feel the
traditional nativity is being pushed aside.
"It seems wrong to bombard kids with commercial messages about
presents and Santa without them realising the true meaning of the
"This study shows [that] many parents who aren't religious look
to the nativity as a comforting part of the Christmas celebrations,
and want their school to embrace and celebrate it rather than make
up a version with perhaps less resonance for kids.
"Christmas is about peace, acceptance, and tolerance; so let's
see more schools accept back this tradition."
Dr Don Horrocks of the Evangelical Alliance said: "This is
either extreme political correctness or, perhaps, it reflects a
nation too embarrassed to face up to its Christian heritage and the
radical message of the Christmas story.
"Whatever the motive, it does a huge disservice not least to the
younger generation who are being misled regarding their spiritual
heritage and culture, and causing them to miss out on the meaning
and significance of the Christmas message."
Parents also admitted to feeling aggrieved that their child
hadn't been given a bigger part in the play, and some said that
they knew other parents who had pressed teachers for a better part.
When it comes to taking photos, one in three parents had to sign a
form promising not to post photos on social media.