Good Tindings We Bring, To You And Your King

Posted on December 1, 2011

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By David Wren

I love Christmas. Who doesn’t? Anybody who says that they “hate” Christmas is clearly lying- unless something traumatic happened to them over the festive period- because it is a time of gifts, food and family.

I’m not the only Brit who is filled with festive cheer every year. It is thought around £20 billion is spent each year at Christmas with a staggering £1.6 billion going towards food and drink. Although the gifts are getting more extravagant each year, the ideals and traditions stay they same. For example, pulling a cracker on Christmas day has been around since the 1850s and Christmas trees have been around since 1841, being introduced by Prince Albert.

It’s not just us Brits who love Christmas, though. It is celebrated all over the world but perhaps not for the same reasons.

In Japan, for instance, only 1% of Japanese people believe in Jesus but they still decorate their houses during the festive period. They enjoy giving each other gifts and it becomes part of their celebrations. They also have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus and delivers gifts to each house. Among the Christian Japanese community, Christmas is not a day for family. They do not have turkey or a big juicy ham joint; instead the day is spent doing nice things for others, like the elderly and those sick in hospital.

In Russia, the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the festival of winter. Some traditions, however, are being kept up in the country. A traditional Russian Christmas would begin with special prayers being said and people fasting for 39 days. This fast would end on January 6th, which is the Russian Christmas Eve. They would then begin a 12-course supper in honour of each of the apostles; including fish, soup, dried fruit and more. Christmas day is similar to that of the UK and the USA in that carols and hymns are sung and ham and turkey is eaten. The Russian Christmas figure is called Babushka, which translates in English as Grandmother. She distributes presents to children.

Both countries have their own subtle takes on Christmas. The USA on the other hand blows Christmas into an entirely new dimension. It is lights, huge gifts, huge portions of food and that urge to squeeze just another slither of food into their already bulging stomachs. In my eyes, the yanks do it right and spare no expense in making their tree better than Hank’s next door. In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas shopping season. It has been said that between November and December the spending in the USA goes up by more than 50%. This usually takes spending up to just the $32 billion.

Interestingly, from 12 of my fellow students, when asked to describe Christmas in three words only two people even mentioned Jesus. Five, however, mentioned presents in their answers and one described Christmas in three words as “oot yer dial’.

Christmas is a great time of year. It brings people together, spreads love and joy and makes children have sleepless nights with excitement.

My message to everyone over Christmas is have fun, drink responsibly and remember those less fortunate than you. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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Posted in: News Features