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A day in the life

of Black Santa

THE PREPARATION

How much preparation does the Dean put into becoming Black Santa? What happens before the Dean walks out on the steps of the Cathedral with his collection barrel?

 

Standing outside in the December weather, days at a time, can be a very cold affair. So the Dean must wrap up warm to keep the wind and rain at bay.

 

Dressed in warm socks, lots of layers, hats, gloves and the heavy Black Santa cloak, the Dean dons his gear and heads to the front of the Cathedral. The black cloak, after which he was named, has always remained the same as the first one when the Sit-Out started. It’s a clerical winter cloak, and it goes some way to keeping the Black Santa warm in the cold months!

 

The slim barrel which holds the kind donation of strangers is a strange shape, tall and narrow as it stands beside Black Santa. The heavy oak whiskey barrel was a donation from Bushmills distillery years ago, and when it's not in use at Christmas, it stands proudly in the Cathedral’s ambulatory.

 

So wrapped up with all the warm clothing, armed with a hot chocolate from Curated Kitchen, supported by a full team behind him, Black Santa awaits your donations for the wonderful charities which the Sit-Out supports. 

THE SIT-OUT

Every year, when Black Santa sits out, this community demonstrates what that sense of belonging means to them. The local shops happily host Black Santa donation tubs. The Centra team checks in on Black Santa and his helpers with sweets and biscuits. Alan, from Curated Kitchen, keeps Black Santa and his helpers supplied with tea, coffee and hot chocolate. And some days, fuelling Black Santa could require upwards of 10 mugs of hot drinks!

 

The Belfast Community Circus and its performers drop by to keep Black Santa company (and entertain those who have stopped by to give donations). And just in case Black Santa gets caught out by the weather, or needs to have a private chat with someone who’s called with him, the Cathedral Quarter Trust sets up a marquee every day. (Although, this may also be partly in a bid to make sure the sweets are kept dry!)

 

The Black Santa Sit-Out is a Belfast tradition, but it’s about so much more that Black Santa. It’s about community, and the Cathedral Quarter community is first in line to support Black Santa and everything he stands for.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

It would be a lonely week if Black Santa stood at the Cathedral steps on his own. It’s no surprise then that there is a whole team of helpful volunteers supporting him throughout the day. 

 

It has long been tradition for the Canons of the Cathedral to help the Dean with the annual Sit-Out, including the Dean’s vicar, Mark Niblock. They come out in their dozen to support Black Santa and help collect the donations. They dress in the black cloaks and share in the long days of standing at the steps of the beautiful St. Anne’s building. In shifts, they chat and mingle with everyone who ventures out in the cold weather to support this wonderful Christmas tradition.

 

The team at Belfast Cathedral go above and beyond to ensure those standing on the steps are supported in every way. From the staff helping the Cathedral to run smoothly while the Dean is occupied, to the many Cathedral volunteers who venture out into the cold for a friendly chat to pass the time - time passes quickly for Black Santa as the donations pour in.

WHEN A COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER

Every year, when Black Santa sits out, this community demonstrates what that sense of belonging means to them. The local shops happily host Black Santa donation tubs. The Centra team checks in on Black Santa and his helpers with sweets and biscuits. Alan, from Curated Kitchen, keeps Black Santa and his helpers supplied with tea, coffee and hot chocolate. And some days, fuelling Black Santa could require upwards of 10 mugs of hot drinks!

 

The Belfast Community Circus and its performers drop by to keep Black Santa company (and entertain those who have stopped by to give donations). And just in case Black Santa gets caught out by the weather, or needs to have a private chat with someone who’s called with him, the Cathedral Quarter Trust sets up a marquee every day. (Although, this may also be partly in a bid to make sure the sweets are kept dry!)

 

The Black Santa Sit-Out is a Belfast tradition, but it’s about so much more that Black Santa. It’s about community, and the Cathedral Quarter community is first in line to support Black Santa and everything he stands for.

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