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14. 12. 2017
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CHRISTMAS

The festival of Christmas or the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ is celebrated with great cheer and enthusiasm all over India by the Christians. It falls on December 25 and is also hailed as 'Bada Din' festival since from this day, duration of the day time is enhanced. As explained earlier, there is no historical evidence to prove Christ's birth on this day but since this day was found to be naturally auspicious for the people living in dark and cold climate, they started celebrating Christ's birth-day on this day.

On this day, people in their best clothes attend the special services of mid-night. In fact the festivities of this occasion continue till the new year's day. The celebrations start on Christmas eve with carol singing, visiting friends and relation till late in the night. On the final day, a Mid-Night Mass followed by the pealing of the Church bells, ushers in the day of Christmas. In big cities and towns, processions are taken out with tableaus depicting the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and other Christian saints. At some places, special autifully decorate their houses, shops, establishments, hospitals, schools and churches and illuminate them. They erect Christmas trees and exchange greetings around it. The Roman Catholics do not raise these trees. These Christmas trees have an interesting story linked with them.

Very long ago, when the children used to be sacrificed to the gods, an English Christian, Winfred was wondering through the forests of north Germany. He came upon a huge oak where a little prince, Asulf was tied up. Asulf was to be killed to please God Thor — the Thunderer. Winfred rushed up and had the great 'Blood Oak' chopped down and saved the child. The priests of Thor would have killed Winfred, but suddenly the strangest thing happened. A little fir tree sprang up before their eyes in place of the Oak. Winfred told the amazed people that it was the tree of life and represented the Christ Child. Much later, a German Priest, Martin Luther was supposed to have put the first candles on the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree remind the people to be a little unselfish and help others as well.

A mystical Character Santa Claus also appears on the Christmas night to give gift to the children. Much long ago the real Santa lived in a seaport town called Myna in Old Turkey. It was Asia Minor then. His name was Nicholaus. But Emperor Diocletian jailed

Nicholaus for not worshipping Goddess Diana and believing in Christ. Later when Emperor Constantine came to the throne and made Christianity the religions of his empire, Nicholas was released from prison and became a bishop. He used to walk around Myna in disguise, trying to find out how he could help people in trouble. Once he came upon a poor widow whose three little sons had been killed by an inn¬keeper and hidden in pickle Jars. The good bishop prayed over them and the boys came back to life. This made Bishop Nicholas become a special friend of all Children. When he died, the Church decided to make him into a saint.

Saint Nicholas was adopted by many countries who gave him different names and changed his story a little here and there. Then he became a universal figure Santa Claus. Christ, like Lord Krishna, was born in the most difficult conditions when his parents, Mariam (Mary) and Joseph were seeking shelter in a rickety stable in Bethlehem in Judea. The Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, wanted to know how many people there were in his empire. So he ordered everybody to get back to their home towns to be counted. Mary and Joseph were in that crowd returning to Bethlehem when this Prince of Peace and Love came in this world. His teachings are full of most logical tenets essential for the peace of mankind. No wonder, now more than half the world follows his path.

The Christians have also contributed to the religious and cultural variety and richness of India. Perhaps the first Christian to land here were those that fled persecution from Persia and Mesopotamia in the middle of the fourth century and landed at Malabar Coast. Like the Jews, they also found a ready asylum here. Thus the roots of Christianity in India are older than that of Islam. Hindus and Muslims also now enthusiastically join Christmas celebrations with their Christian friends and fellow countrymen. •

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