Mary’s Meals serves more than two million children with a nutritious meal every school day in 19 of the world’s poorest countries, including Malawi, South Sudan and Haiti. The promise of a good meal attracts children to the classroom, giving them the energy and opportunity to learn, and the chance of a brighter future. 

Each December the charity holds a virtual Christmas dinner, Big Family Christmas, to raise funds to feed even more hungry children. Last year, nearly 9,000 people around the world took part in the fundraiser. 

Morven Macgillivray, supporter engagement manager, at Mary’s Meals, says: “As our survey shows, Christmas is a time of giving. We are so thankful to everyone who helps us to spread the joy by making a gift to Mary’s Meals; letting the children we serve know there are people thinking of them at this time of year. 

“Every year, I set a place at the Mary’s Meals virtual Christmas dinner for my mum, and she sets one for my brother and myself. It has become a family tradition. This year I’m extending that Christmas tradition to include a place at the table for the star of Die Hard, John McClane! As he famously says in the film, welcome to the party, pal!” 

In return for a donation of £15.90, enough to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year, people can take part in the Big Family Christmas. They will receive a certificate to print at home and their name, or the name of a loved one, will appear on the charity’s virtual dinner table alongside names from across the world – and the Die Hard hero! 

Donations made to Mary’s Meals before 31 January 2022 will be matched by a group of generous supporters, up to £1.6 million, thanks to the Double The Love campaign, meaning that each place set at the online Christmas table will feed two hungry children. 

To find out more, please visit 

Christmas traditions in South Sudan 

At midnight on Christmas Eve, young people in South Sudan joyfully run around with torches, shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ and drumming on jerry cans.   

Moses Kopurot, who manages the Mary’s Meals programme in South Sudan, explains: “This tradition is known throughout South Sudan and so everybody knows the next day is the 25th of December and is the day that we have to celebrate Christmas.” 

Mary’s Meals serves maize or sorghum (a local grain) and beans to more than 75,000 children in South Sudan every school day. 

This includes children like nine-year-old Daniel who wakes at 6am every day to milk his family’s herd of cows before walking for more than an hour to reach his local school.  

He says: “I like this school because we eat good food. If I wasn’t in school, I would be at home taking care of the cows.”

A poll of 2,000 UK adults was conducted by ‘One Poll’ between 19 and 23 November 2021. Respondents were asked ‘What are your favourite Christmas traditions?’ 

Favourite Christmas tradition North West UK wide 
Giving Christmas presents 74% 69% 
Eating my Christmas meal 74% 69% 
Receiving Christmas presents 55% 55% 
Decorating the Christmas tree 51% 54% 
Eating Christmas leftovers 37% 37% 
Singing or listening to Christmas carols 21% 27% 
Listening to Wham’s Last Christmas 21% 21% 
Watching my child/grandchild in their Christmas show 18% 20% 
Attending my work Christmas night out 9% 14% 
Watching Die Hard 12% 13% 
None in particular/I don’t have any 8% 5% 
Other 2% 2%