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Opinions of Sunday, 25 December 2016

Columnist: Ernest Senanu Dovlo

Bring back the Christmas of old

“Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum", it's that time of the year, where the feeling of Christmas makes the older generation want to be young again. They miss the good old days that most of us, due to fate did not get the opportunity to experience. I am fortunate, however, to have enjoyed a bit of that era where Christmas knew no boundaries to children.

It was a time we freely eat anything from a neighbour’s house, wear specially tailored occasional dresses we affectionately called “bronya ataadie”, scare people with lighted matched sticks at night and send 31st December nights to eternal sleep, blasting them away with firecrackers. As I reflect on Christmas with nostalgia, my head is filled with a host of thoughts running around like the scene created when a dog is let loose in a hens’ coup.

Today, though all places are beautifully decorated with red, white and green stunning colours with Christmas paraphernalia, nothing does the magic more than the Christmas of old that came with exceptional excitement among people, especially children. It was a community festival that gave room to children to exploit what the world had in stock for them and they were simply carefree. I do not know how most children of today feel about Christmas because unlike me, they have no experience to compare to what they have now. What perhaps they will never experience is the Christmas huts, the moments we carried baskets sharing food prepared by our mothers to our neighbours, wore our Christmas dresses to bed because we either couldn’t wait for the next day or didn’t want to take them off and the days children created firecrackers with bicycle parts among others.

There was nothing like a shopping mall to go and take ‘selfies’ and splash them of Facebook and other social media platforms with the hashtag ‘Christmas is bae’(before Anything else). Besides, it took one a week or more to receive photographs so we cared little about that. All we had was our neighbours and the moon light nature gifted us. We made the best out of it.

By this time, our collectively built Christmas houses were almost ready. We created our own Christmas guns and other play items for recreation. It was awesome being a child even without computers and video games and shopping centres. In as much as Christmas has come to stay, many have called it pagan pointing fingers at its origin.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday and the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. The fourth century church officials however, decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention the date of Christ’s birth, although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring because it was impossible for shepherds to be herding in the middle of winter. It is commonly believed that the church, and for that matter Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. And by the end of the eighth century, Christmas had spread to several geographical jurisdictions. It is important to note that for Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after 25th, which is referred to as the Epiphany. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

Irrespective of its funny background, Christmas remains arguably the only Christian Festival that encourages community life, sharing with the less privileged and a moment for Christians to prepare their hearts for the second coming of Christ.