Art & Culture

Glad tidings to you wherever you are, glad tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year! It dates back to about 2000 years ago when a star shone so bright, trumpet sounded and angels sang in glory, for a babe lying in a manger. Who was this baby to see whom the shepherds flocked?

Christmas in Latin means “Dies Natalis Domini” which means the birthday of our creator, Nadal in French and Genethlia in Greek. Historically the birth of Jesus Christ took place in 4 BC. But long before humanity could record history, Jesus Christ has had an influence on the lives of men and women. Many prophets like Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah etc. had foretold the coming of Jesus hundreds of years earlier to his birth.

A census took place when Quirinius governed Syria. Joseph a carpenter by profession, who was a descendent of king David, was traveling from Galilee to Bethlehem with his wife Mary who was expecting a baby. Large crowds had traveled to Bethlehem for the census, as a result Joseph could not find a place to spend the night as all the places were filled. By then Mary was full in pains and her baby was due any moment. Finally a man offered them his cattleshed. Mary and Joseph were thankful to that man. And it is in this cattleshed the birth of Jesus took place. Mary wrapped the baby in swathing bands and laid him in the manger.

It was a night of great glory, the most holy night, for that day was born unto the world the Son of God and a messiah with a promise of salvation. A bright light was seen in the sky. The angels spread the word to the shepherds who were with their sheep and instructed them to pay a visit to the newborn child. There were three astrologers (it is assumed to be three because there is a mention of three gifts in the scriptures) who followed the bright star that shone. They paid their greetings to king Herod and told him that they were journeying to pay a visit to the new king who was supposed to have been born. King Herod was furious and claimed that he was the only king. He asked the three of them to give him the details about the newborn on their way back. The three men followed the star and finally reached the stable where baby Jesus lay. They offered him three gifts – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. On the way back they went by a different route as per the instructions given by the angel in their dream.

Significance of Candles:
In the olden days the pagans lit fires to the sun. They used to call it the festival of light. Similarly, Christians lit candles to the Son of God. It was more than 700 years ago when for the first time Christmas was observed for 12 days. A candle, specially prepared, was lit every night between Christmas Eve and the Eve of January 6. This was how the 12 days of Christmas came into existence.

The origination of the calendar:
The first people to measure a year with exactness were the ancient Egyptians. But, the present calendar is a gift to us by the Romans. The important thing for an accurate calendar was to have 365 days. Julius Caesar (c 102-44 BC) and Augustus (63 BC-14 AD) decided the number of days in each month according to the reasons they felt.

Christmas tree O Christmas tree…
Trees decorated with glitterings, lights, candles and gifts, adorn the proud festive spirit of Christmas. The custom is said to have originated centuries ago from the Germans who used to revere trees. The evergreen trees do not fade or die during the frosty winters; they can withstand the freezing breeze and yet remain untouched. It was due to this quality that these particular trees were chosen to be decorated during Christmas time by Christians. The northern people of Denmark, Sweden and Norway used to bring small trees to be decorated in their homes during Christmas time as there were thick evergreen forests there. The first Christmas trees in the western hemisphere were introduced by Hessian rulers in 1776, during the American revolution.

Trees were not used in English homes until a German prince, Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1819-61), married queen Victoria in 1840. Prince Albert is said have decorated the Christmas tree for the first time at Windsor Castle in 1841.

Dashing Through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh…so goes the heart of many a people, both young and old, at the very thought of our dear Santa Claus.

It was long long ago, when the rich knew no bounds and the poor had no hopes, a man was toiling from night to night. Climbing the chimneys, peering through the windows, to see if the inmates are fast asleep. He used to place small gifts for them when no one was around.

The people of the village were anxious to find out who this noble man was. But their efforts were in vain. Later he was identified as Saint Nicolas or what we commonly call Santa Claus. He symbolizes the sign of sharing and spreading of happiness. Today we can find men dressed as Santa Claus during Christmastime with a flock of children crowding around with joy.

Hark the herald angels sing…the Christmas carols. From the greek word chorus comes the word carols. Christmas carols are a way of commemorating the birth of Christ by singing. They are usually the stories or happenings of the events that took place during Christmas. Elders and children alike join the choir and sing carols.

Christmas In Dakshina Kannada:
Mangalore is rightly called the Rome of the east. The Mangalorian Christians had fleed from the clutches of Tippu Sultan and returned to their native from Srirangapattana. Christmas is celebrated with great pomp and show in DK. One can find a gay festive spirit in the cool air, shops all bright with lights and goodies displayed, people hushing and rushing to buy gifts, cards, cakes etc. for their loved ones and all churches and homes decorated. Children wait anxiously for their gifts and goodies which they assume that Santa Claus brings. Greetings, Christmas trees, Adoration, Mass, Cribs, Christmas carols, Pantomimes and traditional Kuswar (home made savouries) make Christmas a picture perfect celebration. The street plays/tableaus by the “White Doves” is not to be missed during Yuletide.

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano y Felicidad…..


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