Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Christmas celebrated to honour the glory of the nativity of Jesus on 25th December is the most significant and spectacular of Christian festivals. No other celebration is so enriched with so many customs and ceremonies. There is an array of spectacles like Christmas Star, Christmas tree, the Crib, Christmas cake, Christmas presents and the Christmas Father. The last named is quite a fascinating personage, who claims above all to be the very embodiment of the most vibrant and quintessence of the gayest of all the festivals. Children allowed to occupy the central stage, in the enchanted company of Christmas Father, Christmas takes on the look of a festival of children. The mood is set with the advent of the season by the twinkling of Christmas stars and there is no home or shop without the Christmas star, the beautiful pointer to the Babe of Bethlehem.

The Christmas tree is a new feature in Kerala, perhaps less than sixty or seventy years old. The crib is a miniature production of the stable where Jesus was born. It developed from the old practice of giving dramatic expression to the events and the surroundings of the birth of Christ. Carols and songs developed from earlier nativity plays have become one of the most cheerful spectacles of the festivities.Priests hold mass in churches three times starting with the first at midnight. Just before the midnight mass, an image of the Child is brought by the priest, preceded by rows of Children holding lighted candles that are placed in the crib. The hymn 'Gloria in exelcis Deo' is intoned admidst the explosion of crackers. A sumptous lunch with rate delicacies is a significant feature of the celebration. Meat forms part of the feast even in rural homes where meat is rarely eaten. Cake has also become common in the villages where women have learnt to make it. In Kerala, Xmas retains its homeliness and expresses itself in the cultural forms of the country without losing what is native to itself.

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