Nepal boasts of religious diversity. It is the land of multiple religions, cultures, and traditions from the time unknown. The practice of accepting different cultures and traditions of a variety of religious backgrounds was there in the heart of the country as a religious resilience by the Hindus.
Our country has always been a Hindu subjugated nation from the time unknown with certain minor religions. However, no religious crusades have ever taken place despite various religions practised in the country. Christianity does not carry a long history as it started flourishing only after the missionaries’ arrival in 1950. When Nepal was declared a secular state on 28-May 2008, the 25th December was still a regular day and only Christians Civil servants were allowed a day off to celebrate the festival. After a long tussle, Christmas was finally marked as the national holiday on December 24, 2016.
Christmas is probably the most popular festival in the world celebrated by the Christians and non-Christians too. People know it as the festival of lights and that of the Santa Claus most widely. Even the non-Christians can tell things about this festival, they would probably include Christmas trees, decorations, and a white-beard happy Santa donned in red dress flying on his reindeers pulled sleigh and carrying bags full of gifts for those who have been good children throughout the year. “Jingle bells” is the most popular music which is played during the Christmas eve. It appears like, Christmas is the “Festival of The Year”, because no matter what country you visit one gets the best elegances in hotels, restaurants, or even one big touristic area like Lakeside in Pokhara and Thamel in Kathmandu or even in Dubai, the capital city of a Muslim country, the United Arab Emirates. Christmas these days is not just a festival but a business opportunity for many countries.
The Celebration of Christmas
Christmas literally means the ‘Feast day of Christ’. It falls on December 25. It is observed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we call Him “Eshu” in Nepal. Only one day holiday is issued by the Government of Nepal for this festival. However, Christmas shopping starts as the December sets in. There are a lot of attractions of Christmas, but the Christmas tree adds charm to the festival. It is erected in a place where it can be exposed well at home with a lot of decorations. The decoration of the tree includes the lights, stars, bells, reindeers, gift boxes etc. However, before any decoration, people should clean the house very meticulously thoroughly. People also decorate the surrounding with lights including the garden and other free spaces at home.
The exchange of gifts, cards, and wishes are the widespread events throughout the festival. Likewise, the Christian community organizes various feast occasions at each other’s homes or else like in the Church itself. The feast takes place on 24th for relatives and near ones together, and on 25th it’s only with the family. In general, the Christmas meal takes place from Eve to the evening of Christmas Day. The meals are rich and extensive like the traditional feast day celebration with the gathering.
Obviously, the Christmas feast includes baked turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy sauce, and vegetables. Likewise, other poultry items like chicken roast, mutton curry, chicken/mutton biryani followed by other deserts like sweets, cakes, and kheer (rice pudding) are common in Nepal. Everybody likes to enjoy the festival well, but of course, the cash in pocket determines your day.
Christmas and Business in Nepal
Christmas these days has naturally become the global religion in terms of business, and Nepal is no exception. Many touristic places organize various functions here in the country. Among all, Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara take Christmas as a month’s celebration. The functions include music, concerts, and many other attractions for tourists. The restaurants concoct rich food with special discount offers during Christmas. Following are the popular business hubs like malls in the cities. They put up Christmas decorations with the massive Christmas tree at their entrance and Christmas decorations all around their locations with the striking display. Likewise, the Christmas discount offers to pull the attraction of the visitors from the malls to the corner shops. Consequently, people anticipate: as Christmas pulls the attraction of many, it will keep growing its popularity in the years ahead.
Santa Claus; the Jolly Old Man
Magic reindeer, enchanted sleigh, meaningful gifts for the good children by the white-bearded fellow with a red dress and a red cap is how Santa Claus is known by all. He is the most enchanting figure for small children. In fact, without him, Christmas wouldn’t be the same. He is one of the most important imaginary figures on earth who touches the hearts and souls of many children. This old jolly man is supposed to bring gifts to the good children all over the world sneaking through the chimneys on the 24th of December. Moreover, during Christmas, one gets a chance to meet with Santa at the shopping malls distributing chocolates to children.
Santa Claus brings hope to children of all backgrounds. He brings smiles to the faces of the desperate. While going to bed, the children with a belief that Santa really exists, they frantically wait for his arrival with gifts. Whereas in fact, Santa Claus brings a bunch of new meanings to the season of Christmas. He teaches the children the happiness of giving; the importance of making people happy even with small help. In the same fashion, he instills in children that it is not what you receive but what you give that adds a very important meaning to the festival.
Christmas Traditions in Many Countries
Christmas traditions for many nations include bringing of huge Christmas tree home, decorating it with lights and other accessories like stars, bells, stockings, candy canes, gift boxes etc. The tradition also invites various food items at home among which are cookies and milk. Likewise, the lighting of the house and the surroundings is another major attraction of the festival. With the commencing of December, Christmas carols are played at every store and every Catholic home. People get plenty of time to listen to the stories of Jesus, Santa Claus, and Father Christmas etc. on the media. Similarly, giving and receiving of Christmas Cards and exchange of gifts are other special events which fall under the Christmas tradition.
We celebrate plenty of festivals in Nepal and during the time, we get a chance to listen to the holy stories of the fiestas. During the season, the media play such stories repeatedly as well as stage performance takes place. In a similar fashion, Christmas has its unique carol, a song slash hymn sung during the Christmas season. It comes from Charles Dicken’s 1843 novel “A Christmas Carol”. This book rose people’s awareness about poverty but the story narrated during Christmas is mainly to convey the message that the pursuit of money will not make a person happy. People perform this specific carol on the stage and the radio, movies, and television, play the Carol as well. The novel remains the most popular and touching tale.
What can a Christmas be for a Person
For any person, it is an important social event, because it creates a chance to unite friends and families who never meet otherwise. This is an opportunity for a family bonding; decorating a Christmas tree, lighting the house, buying gifts, cooking together and so on and so forth. Indeed, Christmas is a time of recreation for every individual. It is a social event to enjoy and assimilate.
Christmas story is incomplete without the mentioning of the Cross. The Cross is the holy symbol of Christianity, reckoning the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and redeeming benefits of his passion and death. However, the Crosses may vary depending upon ceremonial usages and making the sign of the cross can be according to the context as an act of having faith, a prayer etc.
The Cross was the symbol of capital punishment, crucifixion during Roman times thousands of years ago. Crucifixions were designed to cause maximum pain for a prolonged period of time, the victim’s feet and wrists were nailed to a wooden cross and this process would give him a slow and agonizing death. Such punishment was sentenced to the slaves who spoke against the rulers, and Jesus, according to the four canonical gospels, was crucified in a similar manner with two other thieves by Roman authorities. That particular Cross is remembered as the symbol of Christ himself and Christianity.
How do I see Lord Jesus as a Non-Christian
They say Christianity started earning its fame in Nepal after the arrival of the missionaries. However, I received it from my teacher who was a Christian. I grew up in a missionary school somewhere in Nepal. Then again, we could never listen to the Bible recitation despite the fact that the school used to organize Charity programs on holidays. One day, one of my favorite teachers handed me a Bible in Nepali version to keep underneath the pillow of my bed and suggest I read it at nights. I didn’t tell about the incident to anybody until my father found it one day; how? I don’t know.
Finding the book (still didn’t know what it was) my curiosity to read it grew, and dared to flip the pages. The depiction of the Lord influenced me a lot. One day, I happened to peep through a small opening of a door in a charity conference in school. Again, the way the people collected money for someone in need impressed me a lot. After all, I started being into it a little still remaining a full Hindu.
Nowadays, what I see is, if I encounter with some people in need (the people suffering), I feel like they are suffering to cut off someone’s sin (it’s my way of receiving things, might not be right all the time). Therefore, I am not unhappy about giving some charity perpetually.