Christmas is...

Letters to the Editor

Christmas is...

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I wish to share some thoughts on the column published in the Jamaica Observer on December 22, 2020 titled 'December 25: The greatest PR campaign in history?' by Nicholas McDavid.

True: December 25th is not the day that Jesus was born.

True: Christmas is based on pagan (non-Christian) celebrations.

But not true that: “Jesus of Nazareth could be considered history's greatest marketer and PR specialist.”

It was St Paul, and those who followed him, and later Roman Catholics popes, who were the greatest purveyors of Christmas.

But, despite all the cultural, historical, and religious developments, and even myths surrounding Christmas, humans have a need to celebrate or commemorate something or someone.

So there are many other holidays, religious and secular ones, that people observe worldwide. A few examples of these may suffice:

* Diwali: A festival of lights, and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs

* Ramadan: Observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting and prayer.

* Eid al-Adha: The Muslim festival marking the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and commemorating Allah asking Abraham to sacrifice his son.

* Hanukkah: A Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple.

There are many Buddhist religious holidays, including ones celebrating the Birth of Buddha, Nirvana Day, etc.

Then, there is the Chinese New Year, and so forth.

Even in the Caribbean and Jamaica there is Jonkonu — a street parade with music, dance, and costumes of mixed African origin.

Not forgetting Jamaica's Independence Day (August 6) or 'Emancipendence' (from August 1 - 6).

So in short, whether Christmas is pagan or whether it is the day when many Christians believe that Jesus was born, it hardly matters. What matters is that people want, and need, a time to forget their troubles, to meet family and friends, and just to be merry.

However, COVID-19 has made this a challenge in 2020.

Even on the killing fields of the Great War of 1914-18, German and British soldiers crossed those vile trenches of death and filth — much to the dismay of their generals — to wish their mortal enemies a Merry Christmas.

So, I suppose we can do no less in our time than wish each other a Merry Christmas, Xmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever celebratory expression we choose.

George Garwood

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