Christmas 2021 approached with several restrictions from the Sri Lankan Health authorities due to Covid-19. Over two billion people celebrate the birth of Christ on 24 December every year. Christmas is the most joyful season in the year. Generally it’s an occasion for the family to reunite and everyone in the family joins for either lunch or dinner on Christmas: the menu is Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables.
Other types of poultry, roast beef, or ham come to the dining table as extras. For dessert its pumpkin or apple pie, raisin pudding, Christmas pudding, or fruitcake. The Christmas tree a must for Christians, embellishes every home with decorations that include bells, reindeer, candles, candy canes, garland, stockings, wreaths, snow globes, and angels irrespective of their faith.
Christmas in Sri Lanka 2021
This Christmas is affected by the high cost of living: the public were spending frugally due to the sharp increase in the cost of living, the floods, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced the Government to shut down the country several times, the Government’s dollar reserves weakened, declining the economy critically.
The common folk, particularly the farmers screamed about a bump on the ride, while a few privileged VIPs got their hands up and enjoyed the gallop by holidaying in Nuwara Eliya, and others by travelling abroad during the festive season. On top of everything the LP gas explosions had a damaging clout on the Government; while, a person died from the gas explosion.
Christmas arrives as usual at the end of the year to celebrate what Jesus Christ advised the mortals:
“Not to concentrate purely on accumulating wealth, but to realise that all living beings devise ideas originating within a person’s heart to tarnish him unless the person’s heart is pure, and mind is cleansed (Mark 7:21-23).”
What Jesus Christ expected
Christians, especially on Christmas, need to follow love and compassion what Jesus Christ preached. But it is ridiculous how people globally become victims of a commercial hype. Christmas, of course, comes but once a year, and Christians declare year on year, especially at mid-night Christmas Eve Mass, never to get bogged down in commercial extravaganzas again! Yet they forget about it after a few months.
In that sense during the festive season, Christmas turns into a contagious disease. It becomes evidently clear with the congested traffic, shops and supermarkets and jewellery shops packed to capacity to increase their turnover. People behave so ludicrously as if the world is going to end! But this year Christmas is different with the soaring cost of everything – from vegetables to all household goods and materials in the building industry bearing an unreasonable price hike the buying spree has abated.
Other countries celebrate Christmas in style, irrespective of their religious faith, and get into the festive mood with decorations. The compulsory Christmas tree adorns the home with tinsels from the beginning of the month of December and remains until seven days after Christmas.
Another aspect of Christmas is the display of the vast amount of Christmas cards received by households as a means of exhibiting their circle of friends. Even mature folks begin to act like babies by playing alongside kids on Christmas with children’s electronic battery operated toys! The international shopping malls and streets around get illuminated with scores of electric bulbs during the festive season, akin to Vesak celebrations, spreading the splendour of Christmas.
The history of the Christmas tree glittering with lights and decor goes back to ancient Egypt and Rome, which continues to date. America managed to bring the candlelit Christmas tree for the first time in 1800.
Subsequently, the candlelit Christmas tree became fashionable in Germany. In 1846 London news-stands illustrated Queen Victoria of Britain and Prince Albert with their children around a Christmas tree.
Before the birth of Christianity plants and trees remained green throughout the year. Many countries believed that evergreen plants kept away ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
Christmas started its celebrations universally since the 4th Century. Ever since, the young children were conditioned to believe in the ‘ jolly old man’, called Father Christmas, with white whiskers, wearing a red robe, and a large sack containing gifts, visiting at homes at midnight through the roof or chimney.
The term Father Christmas originated from St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of schoolchildren, after the death of Jesus. During the 17th century, Dutch Protestant settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) replaced St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) with the name of the generous magician called Santa Claus.
In preparation for Christmas, entrepreneurs concentrate on electronic contraptions and greeting cards printed in many forms to boost their income.
At no other time during a year hypocrisy becomes so rampant. People spend money on Christmas presents and send Christmas cards even to immediate neighbours whom they meet daily. Sir Henry and John Horsley designed the first Christmas card with three panels – the outer two panels displayed people caring for the poor, and the centre panel displayed a family enjoying Christmas lunch.
Currently, card manufacturers produce millions of Christmas cards throughout the world to increase their revenue. Felling down trees annually for this purpose does an irreparable harm to the environment. The mince pie is regarded as a part of the British culture for hundreds of years with Christmas lunch. Currently, over £5 million (Rs 136,000,000) worth of mince pies, along with £2 M (Rs 55,000,000) million Christmas puddings get sold out during Christmas in the UK.
Jesus was born an ordinary man and led a simple life by travelling from place to place. Despite his teachings of kindness and forbearance, evil forces are at large leading towards disorder and a chaotic situation. Christ demonstrates how to be tolerant, even during his traumatic moments on the cross by loving and forgiving the very people who sentenced him to death! Therefore, enjoyment during Christmas should not be a commercial fun fare to kill pigs and disembowel chicken and bring these as succulent dishes to the Christmas lunch table, but to decorate people’s hearts with love, compassion and human feeling for one another and to ward off the worst impending disasters that are predicted in the future.
pic credit: Ceylon Today Newspaper ( Print Edition – Focus)