Elders' Blog

Pastor's Note - December 23

Each year at our Christmas Eve service, we hand out bags of goodies to all that attend. This tradition is not unique to us – many Mennonite churches, and churches of other denominations, do the same. What many may not know is that these bags have a name (this information was revealed to me a couple years back by Debbie Hardy). The bags are traditionally called tüjte (pronounced “toot”) bags, which is a German word for a kind of bag, I believe. Traditionally they are filled with an orange (or another fruit), candy and/or chocolate, and lots of peanuts. But as with all traditions actual implementation may vary, maybe depending on the relative generosity and lavish nature of the bag-packer. According to a 2016 post from the Daily Bonnet (a Mennonite satire website – yes that exists), these bags are “filled to the brim with unsalted peanuts, one stale Mandarin orange, and a package of Juicy Fruit gum.” It seems the tradition goes back to the late 1800s, when giving sacks of treats to children was common in Mennonite churches. According to a Christian Leader article on the subject, one member of an MB church recalled men guarding the bags overnight, before distribution, so that they wouldn’t be stolen by the kids. I guess the bags were coveted items. In the days when the tradition started, Mennonites lived in immigrant communities where resources were scarce, so the gift bag was quite the special thing. In that regard, these little bags can remind us of how greatly God has blessed us, and how freely and willingly He gifts us beyond what we need. And of course, every act of Christmas gift-giving is an opportunity to recall God’s incredible generosity to us in giving us His Son, that we may have life in Him.

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