In a few days, the sleigh bells will start jingling. Are you prepared for the onset of seasonal mingling? Have you prepared your carol, made greeting cards, decided which cake to bake, trimmed or bought your Christmas tree, wrapped your gifts and decorated your home? It is never too late to start preparing for Christmas. You can enjoy the colours of Christmas even with last-minute planning, organising and shopping.
Carols are an important feature of the Christmas season and its celebrations. The popular Christmas carol ‘Jingle Bells’ was originally written by James Lord Pierpont and published in 1857. Other popular carols include Joy to the World, Silent Night, White Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, etc. Not only kids but young and old, all enjoy these melodies, which makes Christmas the jolliest time of the year. These beautiful carols instil hope to all that it touches and rids the heart of sadness and gloom. You can enjoy these carols online and as well as on CDs and cassettes. Various malls in Pakistan even play these carols throughout December as part of the Christmas festival. Whether it's the traditional tune or popular makeovers of Christmas carols, listening to them is part of tradition. Any version of a Christmas carol that is played will serve the purpose of putting you in a festive mood for Christmas that you may even want to dance, just like the music of original carols was meant to do.
To share the joys of this wonderful time with friends, family and loved ones, Christmas cards are another important activity you must have on your check list. Relatives living far away appreciate reading Christmas wishes and notes from their family and friends. These cards can be sent as an electronic mail or handmade. They are also easily available at all the local book shops and stores. It’s all about expressing goodwill on Christmas and letting your loved ones know that you care.
It is said that, originally, people cooked porridge to celebrate Christmas but later it was replaced with baked cakes and a variety of puddings to mark the occasion. Baking Christmas cakes at home is an interesting activity, as it enhances the feeling of the special event. However, today some people prefer to buy cakes because of their hectic schedule. A lot of hotels and bakeries offer special Christmas cakes in different varieties and flavours. These cakes can easily be picked up from United Bakery, Blue Ribbon and Misquita Bakery to name a few.
It can be said that a Christmas tree is to Christmas day what a pumpkin lantern is to Halloween. It is a tradition established by Martin Luther as a symbol of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Christmas trees are decorated with blinking lights, glass balls, ornaments, garlands and tinsels.
A star is placed right at the top of the tree representing the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity. While artificial Christmas trees are popular, many people like to have a real and fresh Christmas tree in their homes, or outside on their lawns. Choosing a Christmas tree for your home is very essential in creating a special atmosphere for the season. Artificial Christmas trees can often be bought from various shops at Saddar, Tariq Road and Zamzama.
Presenting gifts is also another way of sharing love and happiness on Christmas. Children in particular wait for this day. They are forever excited to collect gifts that are placed under the Christmas tree.
Santa Claus in a red suit and a big belly is someone without whom the festivities of Christmas are incomplete. People admire him as a jolly fellow, leaning back in his sleigh with an overstuffed sack full of gifts. Kids love him the most because along with joy and anticipation brings candies and gifts for them every year. For children Santa Claus is their Christmas Father. In reality, Santa does not come on a sleigh but parents make sure that their children’s wishes are fulfilled and their belief in Santa is sustained.
Once the preparations are complete, the real celebration begins with the Christmas Mass which is held on December 24 before midnight. Carols are sung, readings from the Bible are followed by prayers for the community, people in general and for peace in the country. The mass ends with wishing everyone Merry Christmas. But, when wishing Merry Christmas, we have to keep up the essence of these words, which means to be happy and contented. For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day; don’t unleash this real spirit of Christmas from your hearts and homes. By being a Secret Santa, we can give hope to a needy family, to celebrate and share the happiness of Christmas. Everyone needs a Santa Claus everyday and not just on Christmas. So, look around where you can serve, maybe you come out to be the real Santa, bringing hope and happiness to someone’s life. It’s not only what you give but actually you cared and were thoughtful enough to give, counts a lot.
Following up the celebrations, every year different churches organise Christmas carols and drama competitions for kids and the youth. Camp fire, Christmas Melas and get-togethers add a lot to the season, as Christians from all the Churches get to know each other and share the joys of this wonderful event. This year these competitions were held at St Andrew’s Church Saddar, Central Brooks Memorial Church and Christ Church Mission Road.
A Christmas celebration ends up with preparing for the New Year.
So, Christmas is right around the corner. Let’s put these plans into practice! Have a good time with your family. Set free all grievances. Sing the carols at the top of your voice and spread the message of love and forgiveness all over the world. And remember, the real meaning of Christmas, is the giving of love every day, so start practicing it from today.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.
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