Christmas Celebration | Festivals of India
Perhaps no other festival is as universally celebrated as Christmas. You will find people of nearly all faiths in all the continents enjoying the Yuletide festivities. Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia – come December and a festive air can be experienced. The most visible symbols of this festival are the decorated tree, the cake, and Santa Claus. But of course there is much more to Christmas than this.
The Christmas celebration begins much before the actual date of 25th December. People start decorating their homes with lights, put up Xmas trees and decorate them with lights, bells, candy sticks and snow angles, begin marinating and baking cakes and Yule logs, and start shopping for gifts.
For centuries, people have sent greeting cards on this occasion to family and friends the
world over. In many homes, the cards are displayed on the tree or made into a streamer and used as part of the decoration.
It is a tradition in certain countries to place family members’ gift wrapped presents under the decorated tree. On the morning of the 25th, everyone opens their present.
Usually there is a midnight mass – on the night of 24th December, people gather in churches for the Mass which takes place around midnight. This signifies the people being around at the time of Christ’s birth.
In all churches and in many homes, the nativity scene – a manger complete with straw, figurines of sheep, the shepherds, Magi, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, other animals like horses, and a Star – is arranged, to depict the birth of Jesus.
Hanging a huge star just outside the home is another important tradition and this signifies the sighting of the Star of Bethlehem to point to the Magi where exactly the infant Jesus lay.
Another tradition that is part of Christmas celebrations is the singing of carols. Groups of singers go from house to house early in the morning on the 25th of December, singing hymns which talk about the birth of the Messiah.
In the West, decorating homes with boughs of holly, mistletoe sprigs and wreaths is common. It is said that if a couple finds themselves under a mistletoe sprig, they can kiss.
The dinner on that day is a very special event with the entire family travelling miles to be together for loads of rich food, cake and red wine (believed to be the blood of Jesus).
While the western world celebrates this festival in the winter, it is just the opposite for countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia. You can find many Australians enjoying their Christmas dinner at midday on the beach.
Children await the arrival of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) who is believed to live at the North Pole, and who rides in the air on his reindeer-pulled sleigh, and secretly visits homes to (more…)