How To Celebrate Christmas
Christmas is one of the most prominent festivals celebrated around the world by millions of people. This festival is associated with the people belonging to the Christian faith but equally observed by the people affiliated to other religions. It is celebrated on the 25th day of December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ whom the Christians believe to be the Son of God. It is a religious holiday in the western world including the Europe and the two American continents whereas it is also celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in the Non Christian countries as well.
The celebration of Christmas publicly began way back in the 4th century when Constantine, the then Roman emperor made Christianity legal. Before that, people used to honour Christ by offering prayers within their homes secretly. Throughout the middle ages, Christmas was celebrated in traditional style with special prayers organized in the church followed by feasting, singing and plays. The plays were held in churches, different castles or marketplaces using a big hay wagon as a stage. With the advent of time, the grandeur elevated. The celebration of Christmas started to begin with a church service which lasted from the previous day and continued till Christmas morning. During this period Christianity became popular as a religion which further resulted in the acceptance of Christmas. This festival coincided with the Winter Season which was main vacation at that time leading to make it the perfect time to rejoice, enjoy and relish.
Various customs and rituals are associated with this exuberant Christmas festival. Traditionally, the ceremony begins on the Christmas eve, that is, the day before the actual Christmas day with the Midnight Mass, where all the churches celebrate the birth of Jesus, as it is believed that he was born at midnight. This is followed by the musical Carol Service during the morning along with the special prayers. This includes singing and reading Bible. During Christmas, all the churches furbishes itself with different life sized statues depicting various episodes of Christ’s life, especially his birth. This is a famous custom known as Nativity Scene. These statues can be made of wood, ceramics or clay and can be of any size.
All the cities and towns are decorated during Christmas with banners, statues, models, lights and candles. Street trees are garnished with fashionable lights whereas fireworks in the sky start from the midnight and continues throughout the day. Many towns hold Christmas parades, street entertainment and concerts.
During this time, shopping malls and market places remain crowded as people are engrossed in buying gifts for their dearer ones. As well as, they refurbish their homes and decorate their houses with Christmas trees, lights and sparkling string papers. Christmas Trees are a traditional custom used from the 18th century to enhance this auspicious celebration. This refers to a long fir tree which symbolises goodluck. Today an artificial shining tree is often preferred to the original one. It is decorated with light, coloured balls and other ornaments. People visit their relatives, exchange gifts and enjoy the Christmas Dinner together. The food differs from country to country and also from family to family but it is always associated with wishing each other’s health and safety throughout the year. People offer food, clothing and all other necessary things to the needy and poor as a custom and also to make the latter a part of this carnival.
CHRISTMAS FOR CHILDREN
Christmas is one of the delightful periods for children. All the schools, colleges remains closed making this vacation a true event to celebrate. Kids often identify Christmas with Santa Claus, one of the most prominent characters of Christmas. The name Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch figure Sinterklaas, who is said to bring gifts for children in the Christmas eve. Santa Claus is generally depicted as a white bearded man wearing a red coat. These days many generous people within the society distributes gifts to the small kids inflating their joy. Though most of the children receive presents from their parents only, they get fascinated by the thought of being gifted by Santa Claus. This makes Santa an indispensable part of the Christmas celebration. All youngsters are also engaged in sending Christmas cards to the relatives, friends and cousins residing far from their homes. These cards contains the emotions and the warm greetings of the near ones.
As every other festival, Christmas also has gained commercial importance. Retailers and sellers specially target this period to increase their individual sales and profit margins. Special shopping offers are introduced few weeks prior to Christmas making it a complete marketing season for the people. Leading production houses aim this time to release their films anticipating huge profits. Though this commercialization have somewhat diluted the true meaning of Christmas, still people observe this day by honouring Jesus and holding him at the highest regard as the savior of mankind against all evil.
CHRISTMAS IN INDIA
In India too Christmas is celebrated with a lot of excitement and robustness. Christians observe this pious day by attending special church services, spending time with family members, wearing new clothes and eating a festive meal. Some families exchange gifts or give small presents or sweets to children. They may display small electric lamps or small clay oil-burning lamps to decorate their homes. Most of the government offices and institutions remain closed on 25th December. Christian stores, businesses and other organizations may be closed or have reduced working hours. Many people organise a picnic or a barbecue on this day with their family and friends.
Christmas is the festival which aims to disseminate happiness, joy and well being. In this 21st century when the virtual world is taking a toll on our physical closeness, this festival could be the ultimate event to celebrate togetherness among all. As Christianism is spread all over the world, it can help to reduce tension and bring peace within people belonging to different communities, religions, castes and countries.