Its ‘secret’ handshakes and elaborate rituals have long been a mystery to outsiders, but the world of freemasonry is opening up by selling membership Gift Packs for people to give their loved ones for Christmas.
By James Hall
The Masonic Christmas Gift Pack costs £80 and includes a tour of the local Masonic Lodge, an invitation to meetings with masons, and – subject to approval by the local Lodge – a year’s membership to the group.
The British Federation of Co-Freemasonry described the pack, which is available until the end of December, as “truly a life-changing gift”.
The federation is one of a number of freemasons’ groups that operate worldwide. It was founded in 1893 and has been operational in Britain since 1902. The federation is open to both men and woman and is open to people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
Freemasons are networking groups and charitable organizations who convene in local ‘Lodges’, or meeting houses. They are non-religious and non-political, and membership involves taking place in a series of rituals and ceremonies.
The British Federation of Co-Freemasonry is different to the United Grand Lodge of England, where membership is limited to men only.
The British Federation of Co-Freemasonry said it is the first Masonic organisation to make membership available as a Christmas gift. It said that the initiative is part of a wider campaign to raise awareness amongst the general public.
A spokeswoman said that new members applying to join through the Christmas Gift Pack initiative will have their application confirmed after an interview by members at their nearest lodge.
She said: “We are hoping to reach some people who perhaps have never considered becoming a Freemason before. It seemed to us that Christmas was the perfect time to offer a Masonic Gift Pack and we hope many will take it up to surprise a loved one.”
“It is certainly a unique Christmas gift – to our knowledge nothing like this has ever been done before. Of course, if they subsequently change their minds before joining, we will provide a full refund. Equally if their local Lodge feel they aren’t suited to becoming a Mason we will fully refund the package as well.
The spokeswoman said that there are “huge benefits” to becoming a freemason.
“It provides a wonderful spiritual framework for life. We are hoping many more people will get the chance to experience it for themselves by being gifted our packs this Christmas,” she said.