By Remigius Akinbinu
In every Yuletide period (December 24 -January 6),world over, one feels the air of festivity all around more than any other period of celebrations but it is actually the occasion of the Christians celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on the 24th/25th/26th that makes the period to overshadow all other festival period.
The celebration of Christmas which often extends beyond Christian territories is characterized by many activities that are exclusive, unique and elaborately gorgeous beyond what can be witnessed in other festivals.
Thus, events like the Christmas Carols (which underlines the importance of songs to worship), the Lights and decorations (which include Christmas trees, bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels), the presents and gifts (which have their origin in the presentation of gifts by the three wise men from the East to the baby Jesus),the making and wearing of special apparels for the celebrations and so much more are not what can be associated with any other festivals.
In Nigeria, especially the Christian-dominated-Southern part where Christmas is more celebrated, even the state governments are never left out. Most governments ensure that many important places in the cities are well decorated for Christmas while corporate bodies like banks and other companies ensure that their business environment are well decorated for Christmas even as make gifts and presents available for their staff, customers and business partners. Some even go the extra length of organizing Christmas Carols.
As for the Carols, I can’t but marvel at the one organized by the Ondo state Government early last week.
I was there live at the ultra modern international event centre, the Dome in Akure. The ambience of the environment added great Colour to this year’s carols. The venue created a great improvement on the previous ones with many acclaimed singers and choir groups from home and abroad entertaining the audience which included the Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his wife cheering all through alongside the cabinet, assembly men, top civil servants and judges among others.
The Christmas celebration in the state appeared to more exciting this year with the opening of the Akure Shopping mall which is now in full operation. Hundreds of people the Oged the mall on the eve and Christmas Day to do ‘shopping’ at the shoprite store and catch their fun in places like the Film house cinemas, O2 lounge base and the children playground among others., it is quite axiomatic to posit that the state capital Akure has never witnessed such an exciting Christmas before this year’s.
Also, the decoration of the beautiful roundabouts incorporated on Akure roads by Governor Mimiko and the ever effective street lights were of great additional attraction that made Christmas more amazingly exciting in Akure this year.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and elaborate Christmas decoration scenarios were found at the Ondo state Government House park at Alagbaka, Akure. The graceful illuminatory endowment and majestic Nativity imagery of that site on Christmas eve can convince any appreciative being that it is the best thing to happen in this country as far as Christmas is concerned.
Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.
Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Iran, Turkey and North Korea. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.
Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporates regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.
In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts is a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.
The Gospel of Matthew describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.
Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event.
Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.
A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all fans of SCORELINES (in arrears) and a very prosperous year 2016!
(Additional source: Wikipedia)