A Real Christmas

The child is coming. Advent is the time in the church to wait and prepare for the arrival of Immanuel, God with us. For the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH), it is a time to spread the story of His birth – no small task, to be certain.

The responsibility for this message, from conception to transmission, fell to the RCH's Communication Department. The department works off an extensive collection of marketing research. From this data, the team first defined a target demographic to tailor and direct the Christmas message toward. Specifically, the target group consisted of active members within society ages 18-35 that did not claim a religious affiliation. Once the audience was determined, they next had to focus on the conduit for the message. What form should the story take to reach the greatest amount of people?

Furthermore, how do you retell a story that has been told millions of times? What is the best way to take a story steeped in so much meaning and share it with today's modern society? For the members of the communication team, the concept for "A fiú" (The Boy)started as a small idea that grew into comprehensive campaign. "The idea was a creative idea that just happened. When we started talking, it all snowballed until the idea became much bigger," said Ádám Pásztory, Director of Communications for the RCH.

The boy from reformatusponthu on Vimeo.

Bigger does not quite do it justice. Perhaps, deeper is a better term. "Research shows that videos are the most popular medium on the Internet, but that was not enough, because there is too much information and too many layers about Christmas to represent." As the campaign took shape, the idea transformed into a bold visual message accompanied by an in-depth website that boasts behind-the-scene information about the theological messages found in the film, interviews with the cast and controls to explore the film's world. These features allow the message to go beyond the video and show the parallels between modern society and historical times.


The concept behind the campaign was to show a modern and unique view of the Nativity Story. It attempts to explore the major question of Jesus' birth – Why did God become man, why? Throughout the website, Balázs Ódor, RCH Ecumenical Officer, and Eszter Dani, Head of the RCH's Mission Department, share insights into the theological foundations represented in the film, and draw site visitors back to the main message from the Holy Scripture. They touch on the guiding star, the story's setting, Joseph as the overlooked character and the dutiful Mary. The film's actors also give their thoughts on the project and the message of the film.

Ódor describes the star as a natural miracle, because of the way it moves across the sky to show us to the place where Jesus was born. However, the real miracle is that God came to earth as Jesus. "This story opens the secrets of Christmas, because we, like the wise men, guided by our own star, can enter the story and have the story enter our lives as well. God will never be inhuman, even though we are ungodly," Ódor said. He goes on to depict the setting as an entire empire in motion. People were returning to their birthplace because of the census. During their journey, Mary and Joseph search for a safe place to stay for the night, but the only thing available was a stable. He says this expresses a lot about God, "He does not step into our lives like a meteor, which destroys everything, but instead, comes in a very humble way to be the hope of our lives."


Eszter Dani illustrates an image of Mary as a young woman who has been entrusted with a task, a mission, which she does not fully understand. "As a mother, she has a special relationship with Jesus, she is connected in an especially deep way, but as a mother she also understands that Jesus is not only her son, and accepts what is difficult." On the other hand, there is Joseph, who is undeservedly the most overlooked character in the story. He is not the biological father of this child, but Joseph does not send Mary away, he accepts her, because he received guidance from God. He follows these instructions dutifully, as Mary does. Ódor says fatherhood is not merely a biological definition, it is about taking responsibility, a lesson families today should remember this Christmas. He also says this movie does not want people to simply be at home during Christmas with closed doors, but to be open and let the miracle of Christmas inside.

Krisztián Kovacs, who played Joseph in the film, said, "I'm curious about how I fit as this character, or what people think of me as Joseph. Maybe I'm the anti-Joseph...but maybe that's why I am a good Joseph for 2012."

A modern depiction for a modern, relevant message.

Amy Lester