The tale of Christmas | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 18, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 18, 2018

ls christmas special

The tale of Christmas

Imagine a date, an occasion that perhaps binds the largest chunk of humanity, no matter which part of the globe, and Christmas in all probability is the day! There are speculations whether Jesus was indeed born on 25th December. Be that as it may, it is unanimous that the day celebrating the birth of Jesus has transcended the boundary of Christianity and is now a celebration for a population much larger.

A BIT OF HISTORY

According to the sermons of Saint Augustine of Hippo, an early Christian theologian and philosopher, Jesus was born on the date of the winter solstice, an astronomical phenomenon which marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. And 25th December was the solstice the year Jesus was born, thus it was set to be celebrated as his birthday.

 

THE CHRISTMAS TREE

The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolise eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans, and this practice was later adapted to Christianity through the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens during the new year to scare away the devil and setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.

Another story about the origin of the Christmas tree says that late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope that spring would come soon.

Whatever the true reason may be, these led to the custom of having an evergreen conifer at every home and church, decorated in a very cheery, colourful, and creative way.

Bringing and decorating the tree has been a ritual of Christmas from the medieval era, and continues to be so to this very day.

CARDS AND GIFTS

Exchange of gifts is a significant part of Christmas celebrations. Christians give gifts to the poor, and also distribute gifts among family members. This practice is an integral part of the occasion, through which, the joy and happiness of Christmas is shared among everyone, rich and poor. The gift can be anything, even a box of chocolates, or a card. What matters is the thought put behind giving the gift, and the joy of receiving the gifts. These presents signify how love is spread among people from all walks of life.

CHRISTMAS FEAST

Looking at the Christian citizens and our community, Christian houses are decorated with fairy lights, and in shapes of stars. This practice is not only for decoration, but there is a spiritual meaning to it.

While travelling to Bethlehem to meet the newly born Jesus, the 'Three Wise Men,' in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, were distinguished foreigners from the East, and they used a star, which was shining bright in the night sky, to guide them to Jesus' location.

The local churches also adorn themselves with lights and Christmas trees. The churches also take up the task of decorating the surrounding roadsides and alleys. The funds for all these decorations come from the Church and also from donations made by the local Christians.

Another very important decorative item of Christmas is a small replica of the manger where Jesus was born, along with some of the farm animals, Mother Mary and Joseph. The three wise men also came to this manger to visit and present their gifts to Jesus — gold, myrrh and frankincense.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS

A very significant part of Christmas is the carols. Of course, carols are sung in churches and Christmas parties, but in our community, there are a group of carol singers who visit every Christian house in the locality. This group of singers consist of both children and adults. They carry different types of musical instruments and often dress up in fancy costumes to sing the carols or 'kirtans' (as they are called in Bangla) live to the households they visit.

 

FOOD

The number one item on the menu during the occasion is Christmas cake. The cake can be of any size and flavour. The different bakeries, like Cooper's, Mr. Baker, California Fried Chicken and Pastry Shop, make special cakes for Christmas. Many families also opt for homemade cakes. Traditional rice cakes (pithas) are also a favourite item. Pithas of various kinds are prepared during Christmas, especially 'puli pithas.'

REGIONAL VARIATIONS

Different districts of the country have their own traditions of celebrating Christmas. In the Noakhali region, football and badminton tournaments are arranged. The main idea behind this is to bring together people from all walks of life.

BARBECUE — A NEW TREND

A new tradition that has recently become popular is alfresco BBQs. People from the Christian communities of Bangladesh usually set up the barbecue on Christmas Eve.

With so much rich history, and so many more ways to celebrate, rest assured that Christmas is celebrated just as vibrantly here as just about anywhere in the world, and with that, Merry Christmas, everyone!

While travelling to Bethlehem to meet the newly born Jesus, the 'Three Wise Men,' in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, were distinguished foreigners from the East, and they used a star, which was shining bright in the night sky, to guide them to Jesus' location.

The local churches also adorn themselves with lights and Christmas trees. The churches also take up the task of decorating the surrounding roadsides and alleys. The funds for all these decorations come from the Church and also from donations made by the local Christians.

Another very important decorative item of Christmas is a small replica of the manger where Jesus was born, along with some of the farm animals, Mother Mary and Joseph. The three wise men also came to this manger to visit and present their gifts to Jesus — gold, myrrh and frankincense.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS

A very significant part of Christmas is the carols. Of course, carols are sung in churches and Christmas parties, but in our community, there are a group of carol singers who visit every Christian house in the locality. This group of singers consist of both children and adults. They carry different types of musical instruments and often dress up in fancy costumes to sing the carols or 'kirtans' (as they are called in Bangla) live to the households they visit.

FOOD

The number one item on the menu during the occasion is Christmas cake. The cake can be of any size and flavour. The different bakeries, like Cooper's, Mr. Baker, California Fried Chicken and Pastry Shop, make special cakes for Christmas. Many families also opt for homemade cakes. Traditional rice cakes (pithas) are also a favourite item. Pithas of various kinds are prepared during Christmas, especially 'puli pithas.'

 

REGIONAL VARIATIONS

Different districts of the country have their own traditions of celebrating Christmas. In the Noakhali region, football and badminton tournaments are arranged. The main idea behind this is to bring together people from all walks of life.

 

BARBECUE — A NEW TREND

A new tradition that has recently become popular is alfresco BBQs. People from the Christian communities of Bangladesh usually set up the barbecue on Christmas Eve.

With so much rich history, and so many more ways to celebrate, rest assured that Christmas is celebrated just as vibrantly here as just about anywhere in the world, and with that, Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed

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