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The Joys of Celebrating Christmas


by Anwar A. Khan





“I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Christmas
in Bangladesh falls in the winter season. Of course, Christmas in our country has
great spiritual meaning and is not as commercialised as in the developed
countries of Europe or Northern America – this is probably a reason why in
every country there are so many interesting local traditions and cultural
differences. As in the most Christian cultures in Europe and the Americas,
having Christmas dinner with friends and relatives is the most popular activity
after attending the church. Christmas is usually an official public holiday in
our country, so people use the opportunity to spend time with their friends and
family.





After
church service, Christian people go home and have a festive meal along with
their friends, near and dear ones. Children do usually get Christmas presents. The
festivities are accompanied by singing the Christmas Carols. In our country,
there is singing and dancing just as in many other countries of the world.





One
of the most widespread Christmas traditions in Bangladesh is the colourful decorating
of premises which symbolises peace. There is Santa Claus in our country. The
sunny weather draws many people to the outdoors. The Festival continues to draw
in crowds; the event will be the biggest with different vendors selling
Christmas themed merchandise. Later in the evening, a masquerade party is held
with lots of food and music for residents to enjoy.





The
sun shines and everything seems so alive. All that vitality is brought to life
even more by the festivity of Christmas. Just like any other place in the
world, the preparations for the celebration of Christmas begin way in advance.
Some business houses belong to Christian community are closed for the whole
month of December. Shops and business institutions post notes on their doors
saying "We are closed for the holidays".





Even
though Christmas in Bangladesh has many differences from Christmas in the rest
of the world, the actual traditions and festive spirit are quite similar. Houses
and markets are well decorated. Elaborate Christmas dinner and carolers bring
Christmas spirit and festivity in the wind.





Houses
are also decorated with pine branches and many families set up a decorated
Christmas tree in a corner, surrounded by gifts for everyone at home. For Christians,
Christmas Day is a day of good eating, exchange of gifts to add up the
enjoyment. Plum pudding, yellow rice, mince pies, vegetable, roast beef, salad
and other variations of traditional dishes gives an authentic touch to the
celebratory mood.





The
women wake up bright an early, ready for a busy day full of tasks, making sure
everything is neat and set up before visitors appear. On Christmas Day,
children and adults, representing the angels in the fields outside Churches, go
from house to house singing carols. Church services are held on Christmas day
where people dress in their native attire or Western costumes. Later on, there
is a grand feast of rice, soup, porridge and meats.





Families
eat together with close friends and neighbours, and gifts are exchanged. In the
evening, the children and adults do traditional dancing. This involved linking
arms together and kicking the legs up in the air. The teenage kids and adults
sing and play the drums. Friends and family members sing the jingle and party
till midnight.





At
Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Traditional Christmas decoration often can be admired and festive celebrations
can be joined in most countries, even in many of the countries where
Christianity is not the religion of the majority of people like Bangladesh.
Christmas trees are a popular decoration as are tiny sparkling lights in
windows and on walls.





Christmas
all over the world is celebrated on Christmas Day, the 25th of December. Some
countries, however, have different Christmas traditions and Christmas
traditions and celebrations take place over a longer period of time where they
say the first decorated Christmas trees appeared as far back as the 14th
century. Houses are also often decorated with lights and ornaments in December,
however, the Christmas tree is usually only put up in the homes only in the
morning of the 25th of December. The Christian people celebrate the birth of
Jesus on this day.





Christian
people used to decorate the shop fronts, mango trees, churches and homes and
all these are very common throughout Bangladesh’s Christian communities. Christmas
around the world is celebrated in different ways by different countries.
Customs differ around the world for observing Christmas, but they all centre on
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus, all around the world, people have
taken the celebration of the birth of Jesus and made a Christmas that fits with
the culture of their own country.





Christmas
is a happy, festive time filled with great spiritual significance. Caroling,
feasting, and gift giving along with the prayers and wishes - the Christmas is
celebrated with high spirits all over the world. Though the mode of
celebration, the dates and the traditions vary, the main spirit remains the
same everywhere. It is interesting to see how different countries celebrate
Christmas.





The
ideals for which Christ lived and died should be reawakened in all. Like other
great men, Jesus Christ came to this world with a message of peace and preached
for good fellow felling. The durability of the Bangladesh’s Christmas may, in
fact, rest on its ability to bring to our material and scientific world,
against daunting odds, a broadly shared hint of the sacred. It is in the brief
December season that Bengali Christians, using the language and objects of
their culture, recapture ideals and act according to their better selves. In
this sense, the nation's Christmas truly brings together the culture's two most
disparate yet similarly unbounded projects – to seek wealth and to secure
salvation.





The
original meaning of Christmas is a special church service, or mass, to
celebrate the birth of Christ. The story of the birth of Jesus is particularly
important in religious celebrations of Christmas. However, many traditions that
are around today have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals. These
include the importance of candles and decorations made from evergreen bushes
and tree, symbolising everlasting light and life.





In
Roman times, a mid-winter festival was held. This was a relaxing time with a
lot of parties and merry making. It was also common to give other people small
gifts, such as dolls for children and candles for adults. This festival
culminated with the celebration of the winter solstice, which fell on December
25 in the Roman calendar. In Scandinavia, a festival called Yule and lasting up
to twelve days was held in late December and early January. In this time people
burnt logs and held parties. These customs more or less have influences how
Christmas Day is celebrated today in Bangladesh.





The
Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus. It is also unclear
when December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus, although it may
have been around two hundred years after his birth. In the early centuries of
Christianity, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus was not a cause for
celebrations. The idea of turning this day into a celebration started in the
early Middle Ages in Europe.





During
Reformation and up until the middle of the 1800s, Christmas was often not
celebrated because partying and merry making was seen as unchristian. From
about 1840, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. December 25 was
declared a holiday across the world in 1870. Since then Christmas Day has
become a steadily more important holiday.





Although
Christians only form a small minority of the population, Bangladesh’s long
history as a British colony has seen many traditions remain. This includes
keeping Christmas Day as a public holiday. We wish a very Happy Christmas Day
to our Christian brothers and sisters in Bangladesh and across the world.





-The
End-





The
writer is a senior citizen of Bangladesh, writes on politics, political and
human-centred figures, current and international affairs.


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