Midnight mass getting earlier in Britain

Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:49am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Churches in Britain are holding Midnight Mass services increasingly early on Christmas Eve to help families with young children and avoid travel problems, the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.

Parents' desire to steer clear of the growing tide of rowdy drunks late at night is another factor in the trend.

Among the earliest services found in a snapshot survey by the Telegraph was St Teresa of the Child Jesus church in Liverpool, where Midnight Mass will take place at 6 p.m.

"It's because people don't like coming out late, and they want to bring their children," said a spokesman for the church.

"It's nice, some of the children wear their pajamas. There is another reason -- that people are scared."

The paper said several churches are holding the service earlier in the evening so it coincides with midnight in Bethlehem, which is two hours ahead of the UK.

Even Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass at 10 p.m. this year, it noted, to make sure he is not too tired to deliver his Christmas message to the world from St. Peter's the following day

<p>Church-goers listen to a Christmas carol service at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England December 23, 2009. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>