Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“As the year draws to a close and families up and down the country get ready to celebrate Christmas, we should all be immensely proud of the vital role that churches play in our neighbourhoods and the special place the Christian faith holds in our nation.
“Our Christian communities have a strong tradition of giving back and improving the lives of those around them, as I saw for myself at a harvest festival service at London’s Borough Market where food and clothing was donated to the homeless, regardless of faith.
“I would like to pay tribute to those who will be selflessly helping others this year, whether through volunteering in a soup-kitchen or collecting and donating gifts - these generous acts make a real difference within our communities.
“The upcoming holiday is a strong reminder of the Christian ethos within our country and I wish a very merry Christmas to one and all.”
Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi said:
“As Minister for Faith and Communities I would like to send my warmest wishes to everyone this Christmas.
“Christmas is an extremely special time for Britain, a country where the majority of people identify themselves as Christian. None of us should forget that, amid the turkeys, the tinsel and all the traditions that accompany this festival, lies the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.
“This is a time for goodwill and generosity, reflection and redemption. These are themes we can all celebrate - people of all faiths and of none, who break their busy routines to come together with families and friends in the spirit of togetherness.
“This Christmas let’s also remember the positive impact of faith on society and think about those who face persecution for holding a belief. Let’s also be confident in Britain’s Christianity, as I said when I led the largest ever ministerial delegation to the Holy See earlier this year. We cannot erase this faith from our history any more than we can erase the spires from our landscapes - or, indeed, the stars from the tops of our trees.
“Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New Year.”