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Home Canterbury News Article
The Most Reverend Justin Welby's message follows his enthronement in March, when he become the principal leader of the Church of England.
It also comes as the 57-year-old presides over the Christmas Day Sung Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral for the first time today.
The father-of-five said: "I think it's really important that people use the time both for relaxation and recreation, but also for building relationships in the family and dealing with things that have built up over the months and years.
"It's really a good time, because there's so much to do together, of using that as an opportunity to draw together and renew your love for one another in the family and your commitment to community."
Despite wanting to spread Christmas cheer, Mr Welby is based just minutes from the city’s High Street - which has no Christmas lights this year.
They were scrapped by the city council in order to cut costs.
While Mr Welby said he did not know enough about the matter to comment extensively, he said: "Times are tough."
The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury succeeded Dr Rowan Williams in a line dating back to 597.
"I felt hopeful, not optimistic but hopeful about stepping into the role," he said. "That's from a faithfulness in Jesus Christ. Secondly, because I work with amazing colleagues there's a lot of people to catch the balls that I drop. Thirdly, because I had an amazing predecessor.
"The people in Canterbury are fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable. They have a good sense of humour, happy to tease and they don't take you too seriously which is always a relief..." - The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
"It's been a bigger jump than I can begin to suggest. It's quite unlike anything I've ever done before."
He added: "There's a whole load of different responsibilities, everyone around the world looks to Canterbury as the centre of the Anglican church."
Mr Welby has moved to Canterbury after acting as the Bishop of Durham since December 2011.
Already, he has drawn a number of comparisons between the two areas.
"Canterbury's got very similar aspects to it," he said. "There's the sea, there's the countryside, there's the rolling hills, the issues of deprivation and poverty, which is very true in east Kent, and there's an incredibly warm welcome."
After some laughter, he added: "I have to say it's warmer here, which is quite nice.
"The people in Canterbury are fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable. They have a good sense of humour, happy to tease and they don't take you too seriously which is always a relief."
Mr Welby came under the spotlight heavily in October when he christened Prince George at London's St James's Palace.
He reflected on the moment he was asked to conduct what stands as one of his highlights of the year.
"I was sort of thinking 'I'll wake up fairly soon'," he said. "It just seemed so unlikely. It's wonderful, but you think 'is this really me doing this?'.
"Then you start thinking about the service and you realise you've got to treat it as you do baptisms.
"So you pay a lot of attention to the service and a lot of attention to the people involved. It was an extraordinary feeling.
"It was such a privilege to be involved and such fun and a really enjoyable day."
Looking ahead to what will be his first full year as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr Welby has one key hope for Canterbury: "A renewal of people's hopefulness and capacity to grow together in community."
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