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Arts/Culture
28 Dec 2019

World celebrates Christmas

Arun Ranjit
Arun Ranjit
C1

On Wednesday (25 December), billions of people around the world celebrated Christmas Day. While the origin of the festival has its roots in Christianity, Christmas has morphed into a time when many, regardless of beliefs, celebrate the joy of giving.

Among the Nepali total population nearly two percent are the Christians. Christmas is an annual remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.

    Christmas is like Hindus’ Dashain and Tihar for Christians all rolled into one. The festival has been recognised as a national festival since 2007 and even non-Christians celebrate it with a lot of zeal as it belongs to the world. Colourfully decorated Christmas trees and well-decorated shops and malls are seen in various places at the mega cities of Nepal.

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, who was said born between 7 and 2 BC, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural event among billions of people around the world. In the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church first placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted also in the East. Later on, it evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian. The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus).Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world. whether they are Christians or not. It’s a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. Especially children enjoy this festival in a grand manner as they receive many gifts from elders.

The Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah starts on the eve of the Kislev 25 (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, again following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion. Jesus was a Jew, so this could be another reason that helped the early Church choose December the 25th for the date of Christmas!

Most of the world uses the ‘Gregorian Calendar’ implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Before that the ‘Roman’ or Julian calendar was used (named after Julius Caesar). The Gregorian calendar is more accurate than the Roman calendar which had too many days in a year! When the switch was made 10 days were lost, so that the day that followed the 4th October 1582 was 15th October 1582. In the UK the change of calendars was made in 1752. The day after 2nd September 1752 was 14th September 1752.

Many Orthodox and Coptic Churches still use the Julian calendar and so celebrate Christmas on the 7th January (which is when December 25th would have been on the Julian calendar). And the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates it on the 6th January! In some part of the UK, January 6th is still called ‘Old Christmas’ as this would have been the day that Christmas would have celebrated on, if the calendar hadn’t been changed. Some people didn’t want to use the new calendar as they thought it ‘cheated’ them out of 11 days!

Christians believe that Jesus is the light of the world, so the early Christians thought that this was the right time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They also took over some of the customs from the Winter Solstice and gave them Christian meanings, like Holly, Mistletoe and even Christmas Carols! So whenever you celebrate Christmas, remember that you’re celebrating a real event that happened about 2000 years ago, that God sent his Son into the world as a Christmas present for everyone.

In the northern hemisphere, Christmas provides a bright and cheery celebration of family and friends at a time when winter is at its longest, the light of days shortest. For those who live in the southern hemisphere, Christmas marks the height of the summer holidays, a time to make the most of the long leisure days of summer. For those living in South Western Australia, the hectic wildfires burning there, however, offer little chance now to fully appreciate the best the Christmas season can offer.

In the shopping malls bedecked with Santas, cotton snowballs and glittering tinselled trees, there’s a sense of joy — that Christmas is a time for celebration. Yes, it is the busiest travel time of the year. Between Christmas and the New Year, millions take to the skies, travelling around the world to make sure they are home to spend time with family and friends. It is also a time to show all others that yes, we care. Every one counts. And everyone deserves to be remembered — every day of the year and not just on December 25.

Any way the Christmas spirit is a mixture of the Druid, the Celtic, the ancient Roman and the wise east. While the devout rejoice in the birth of the savior and priest exhort the laity to imbibe the spirit of sharing, to the large body of non-Christian revelers, merriment is the dominant emotion during Christmas. While Christmas has traditionally been carnival time in Christian segments of the country however these days’ conservative places are also fast catching up with the spirit of Christmas.

In Nepal too, Christmas climaxes the party season and hotels and elite clubs make up from falling occupancy figures with fun and food extravaganzas, Celebration well begin before Christmas and go on till New Year.

Meanwhile, Top of FormNotre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was unable to hold Christmas Eve Mass for the first time in more than 200 years — after a fire ravaged its structure in April. With heavy hearts, French Catholics instead gathered at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, a few hundred metres away, for a service celebrated by the cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet. Meanwhile, workers continue to repair and rebuild the cherished cathedral.

Notre-Dame, part of a UNESCO world heritage site on the banks of the River Seine lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artefacts in the fire, which was watched by huge crowds. The building had remained open for Christmas through two centuries of often tumultuous history — including the Nazi occupation in World War II — being forced to close only during the anti-Catholic revolutionary period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron has set a timetable of five years to completely repair the eight-centuries-old structure, which remains shrouded in scaffolding with a vast crane looming over it. Paris prosecutors suspect criminal negligence and opened an investigation in June, suggesting a stray cigarette butt or an electrical fault could be the culprit. The culture ministry said in October that nearly one billion euros ($1.1 billion) had been pledged or raised for the reconstruction.

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