Now Dundee sees the light and puts Christ back into Christmas

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CHRISTMAS is no longer cancelled in a Scottish city that dropped all references to Christianity from its winter festival.

Dundee has restored the traditional festive spirit to its celebrations following the personal intervention of Lord Provost John Letford.

Earlier this month, the city council was accused of tarnishing the reputation of the city following revelations that all references to Christianity – including the story of the Nativity – had been excluded from the "Winter Light Night" festival.

Church leaders condemned the council for eroding the religious significance of Christmas.

And they were joined by Mohammed Asif, the city's only Muslim councillor, who said the most important cultural celebration for families in Dundee should be staged as a "Christmas" festival.

Mr Letford found himself in the firing line as representations were made to his office claiming the Christian faith has been betrayed and he was responsible.

But yesterday it was revealed that, at tomorrow night's ceremony to switch on the Christmas lights, representatives from the Church of Scotland's Dundee Presbytery and the Catholic Church will join the procession and be allowed to address the crowds gathering for the celebrations in the City Square.

Mr Letford, who met church leaders yesterday, said: "This has caused a great deal of embarrassment for the council and a lot of personal pain and embarrassment for me.

"The Christmas message will now be read out, and members of the Catholic Church and Dundee Presbytery will accompany myself and the chief executive on the procession into the city centre."

He added: "There has been great disappointment with the way (this issue] has been handled. It was a vague policy document that seems to have caught us on the hop. It is very disappointing that the city's reputation has been tarnished.

"We should not forget that Christmas is a time to remember the message of Jesus and it would be wrong not to let people exercise that right."

Mr Letford also vowed that the situation "will all be sorted for next year and we will not allow this to happen again".

The Rev Allan Webster, vice-convener of the church and society committee of Dundee Presbytery, welcomed the council's Christmas U-turn.

He said: "I will be giving a Christmas message at the conclusion of the parade in the City Square. Everybody is delighted."

Monsignor Kenneth McCaffrey, vicar general of the Dunkeld Diocese of the Catholic Church, said: "The priests and people of the diocese were concerned at the actions of Dundee City Council in attempting to remove all reference to Christmas from the annual switch-on celebrations.

"We are delighted the council has seen the light and is acknowledging that Christ is part of Christmas."