You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2006 12 24Article 116150

Opinions of Sunday, 24 December 2006

Columnist: Kojok, Justin

How significant is Christmas Day?

‘Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled’. Sings Charles Wesley

As a little school boy in the country (village) in Ghana, little did I understand this reconciliation between God and sinners. The significant of Christmas day to me, was beyond God and sinners reconciling, which I didn’t know anyway. It was not only the day I would eat the most sumptuous food of the year but also a day to put on the splendid new dress which my big brother bought for me.

The most significant of all was the visit of Uncle Joe from the city with his wine camera and white car. This was the day the visiting uncle used to take us some memorable photographs and give us a ride to Other vivid memory of Christmas day was in 1978 when the entire village folks were woken up by the sound of fire guns announcing the death of my father.

Hearing the voice of the famous choir master, Konlanbik and a handshake from the bearded white Rev. Father Balatin made Christmas day the most cherished and significant for me then. Other vivid memory of Christmas day was in 1978 when the entire village folks were waked up by the sound of fire guns announcing the death of my father. Inversely, his first granddaughter was born on Christmas day

Christmas day, December 25, is a significant day not only to my memory but in the lives of many people cutting across all spectrum and social status quo, and indeed, notable day for many reasons.

December 25 is supposedly accepted globally as the birth day of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This was the day Emperor Aurelian of Rome chose to celebrate the birth of ‘The Unconquered Sun’ as far as 274 AD. Around 336AD, the Church in Rome instituted the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth on the same date as that of ‘Sun God’ since Christ was considered ‘Unconquered Sun of Righteousness’. Here, both Christmas (The birth of Christ) and Epiphany (festival of announcement of Christ’s birth to the Magi which was celebrated on January 6) were celebrated the same day-December 25- each year.

However, in 432AD the Egyptian Church first observed Christmas as a distinct and separate festival from that of Epiphany. The Church of Rome then began to acknowledge the distinction and accepted December 25 as Christmas and January 6 as Epiphany.

The date also marks the births and deaths of many famous and less famous people of varied walks of life. Two renowned coronations of very important royals and discovery of a new country are among many others. It is my pleasure to note that all these tend to be unknown to many people except that of Christmas which, of course, is extremely significant to the Christendom globally.

It is amazing to note that the British novelist Rebecca West, the American distinguished hotelier Conrad Hilton, and Impresario Lew Grade were born on December 25. As a matter of fact, Lew Grade was born on December 25, 1906 in Russia as Lewis Winogradsky who later migrated to Britain at the age of six. Another famous guy, born on December 25 was the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated after making history as the only Arab leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

The greatest scientist Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas day in 1642. It is recalled that Newton, a school dropout, saw a falling apple in his parents’ garden in Lincolnshire and was inspired to conceive the theory of gravity. Not only that but he was a celebrated inventor of reflecting telescope.

Born as William Cluad Dukenfield in1888, the prolific writer and eminent film actor W.C Field vehemently despised Christmas and its trappings. Paradoxically, he died on a Christmas day in 1946 and Christmas day has been observed as his death and Memorial Day. W. C Field was noted as a great eccentric who apparently hid his money in several hundreds of separate accounts under variety of strange names. Similarly, he used a lot of pseudonyms like Otis Creblecolis, Mahatma Kane Jeeves etc in his writing.

The celebrated film actor and Oscar award winner Charlie Chaplin also died on Christmas day in 1977, two years after receiving his last distinction Award of Knight. Chaplin has his first Oscar Award in 1927 and in 1972, he received a special honors Oscar for incalculable effects he had in making motion pictures. Though born in England under extreme poverty, Chaplin migrated to Hollywood in 1914 at the age fifteen and two years later he was earning a phenomenal sum of $ 670,000 a year. It is on record that Osei Boakye of TV3 in Ghana was born on Christmas day and few years back he historically celebrated the day at Accra Zoo where he shared his Christmas trappings with the animals.

Moving from the orientation of births and deaths on Christmas day, records have it that two different but distinctive monarchs had their coronations on Christmas day. Though little is known of William the Conqueror’s extraordinary activities, December 25, 1066 had been archived as the day of his coronation in Westminster Abbey, UK. That was after he defeated King Harold II in the battle of Hastings.

Emperor Hirohito of Japan ascended to the throne, as the divine ruler, on Christmas day. However, he was obliged to renounce his divine rights after he was defeated in the World War II, became ordinary mortal and ruled as a democratic and constitutional monarch until his death in 1989.

The 1950’s Christmas witnessed the dramatic panorama in Westminster Abbey when Scottish nationals decided to steal the Stone of Scone from the palace and return it to its original place. The Stone of scone was used in coronations of Scottish Kings in Old Scone, the former capital of Scotland. It was removed to Westminster abbey when King Edward I proclaimed himself the King of both England and Scotland.

The important of Christmas day is also seen in the discovery of Natal, the small province of South Africa, in 1497 by Vasco da Gama who later died on Christmas eve in 1524. The Italian born Christopher Columbus on Christmas day 1492 also ran aground the coast of Hispaniola in the West Indies. Though the Santa Maria he was sailing in was sunk, he used the salvaged timber from it and built a fort; the first recorded European structure in the New World, and named it Navida, which means Christmas in Spanish.

The stripped fact remains that many children would be born and some people would be dead this memorable, remember the gift God gave us this day and draw closer to Him.

As the Snr Minister in Diaspora, I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of all Africans in Diaspora and Ghanaians in particular, to caution all and sundry to be careful when driving during Christmas festivities. Merry Christmas.

By Justin Kojok (Snr Minister)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.