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It’s Christmas time again

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We are into the season that most of us anxiously awaited. Belief in the birth of Christ, in fact, of Christianity, does not seem to matter these days. It is for most, simply a season of the year, celebrated by Christians and non-Christians. December 25 has nothing to do with the actual birth date of Christ, which is probably not known, but was first celebrated in 336 AD under Constantine 1, the first Roman emperor, who had late in life been converted to Christianity. This was taken up shortly after by Pope Julius 1, Catholic Pope 336- 352 who officially declared Christmas 25 as the date on which to celebrate the birth of Christ. It isn’t clear why that date was chosen, although there are possible reasons given. It is not surprising that fewer persons now attend Christmas service in the different churches, at least that is how it appears to me.

Many still accept Santa Claus as a symbol of Christmas and put up Christmas trees with Santa perched on top. He is still supposed to climb down the chimney even when there is no chimney. Children are still told to leave something into which Santa will deposit their gifts. I always felt sorry for poor parents who went out of their way to get presents for their children only to give credit to Santa. It is especially so today when he might have found a Caribbean bride. Fewer children today, at the age when they are expected to, believe that Santa exists, but the façade must continue, for after all it is Christmas.

As more Caribbean music surfaces at this time, a debate is now taking place about the appropriateness of the music for fear that the season is taking on too much of a carnival type flavour, not recognising the speciality of Christmas. The answer is that it isn’t the music that might be sacrilegious but the content. In the past we listened to Christmas music from foreign as we will say, but now our calypsonians, in particular, are finding new space to tax their creativity. Christmas carols were at one time, well known, but no longer so. Some might recognise the tune, but have lost touch with the words.

Christmas is now almost a commercial venture. This is not really new but might appear so, because we live in a society that has become totally commercialised. In 1912, traders looked forward to the season and the expected growth in sales, making the necessary comparison with the previous year. Today, the media, after the season, interview business people on the state of business and declare the health of the economy based on their response. Really for a number of business people the season is a do or die situation. They hope to make up for the slowness of the earlier part of the year.

So, the season starts earlier each year, heralded by the playing, in the stores and on radio, of Christmas music. We still feel that we have to discard much of what we have and replace them with what are new. We still want to repaint our homes even if they don’t need to. We are wooed by the many sales advertised, so we leave for the season things which we could have done earlier.

Thankfully the spirit of the season still lingers on. It still remains a time for family and friends to get together. Visits to each other’s home to socialise over ham, cake, and drinks is, however, becoming reduced, as the economy takes a toll on much that we used to treasure. Let the season however remain one of peace and tranquillity!
Season’s greetings to all who have been reading my column!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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