It’s that glorious time of the year again, when fairy lights adorn every plaza in the metropolis, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album plays on repeat, and everybody’s in the festive spirit, all set to take in a little holiday magic. The run-up to Christmas always seems to last a while, and then as Time plays conspirator, in a split second it’s all over and an entire year has passed us by! A cheery assortment of holly leaves, reindeer horns, candycanes and unbelievable discounts for shopping deals; what isn’t there to look forward to?
The Gospel account of Luke 2:1-7 states that about 2000 years ago, the angel Gabriel visited young Mary of Nazareth, who was engaged to marry Joseph. Gabriel blessed Mary and informed her that she had been chosen to bear God’s own son. Around the same time, Augustus Caesar had issued a decree that a census would be taken of the entire Roman empire. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was the governor of Syria). Everyone was to register in their native town. Joseph, belonging to the house and line of Saint David, traversed the towns of Nazareth and Judea to finally reach Bethlehem – the town of David. He registered himself and a pregnant Mary, and then sought shelter at a local inn. Since there was no room at the inn, they took refuge in a stable behind the inn where the animals were reared. It was here that Mary brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, in a trough for cattle feed.
That night, some shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. An angel appeared before them and gave them the good news that a Savior, the Messiah, had been born and was lying in the manger. The shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to partake of the joyous moment. Newborn Jesus was then visited by the Magi, a trio of distinguished foreigners who followed the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ to witness the birth of Christ and present him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Christmas would be incomplete without the legendary portly figure in a red coat and a highly impressive white beard, a trait that instantly puts him in the amazing league of ‘Pasty Big Lip Wig’, housing everyone from Dumbledore and Gandalf to Papa Smurf. Santa Claus developed from the character of Saint Nicholas and his little helper Ruprecht. Initially, Santa wasn’t the only one assigned to deliver presents on Christmas Day. He was to be assisted by the ‘Christ child’. That probably didn’t work out so well, because Santa may have gotten a bit ‘Claus’trophobic. The present image of Santa Claus only established itself in Europe across the board roughly 100 years ago.
At this time Santa Claus still did not have a standardised appearance. Sometimes he wore a blue, red or golden coat. It is only through the character created for Coca-Cola’s Christmas advert that the image of Santa Claus was standardised and universally acknowledged. We may celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas, but no one really knows what day Jesus was born, or even exactly what year. In 336 A.D., the Western Church, based in Rome chose December 25 to celebrate as Christmas, meaning ‘Christ’s Mass’.The Eastern Church chose January 6. The day was called Epiphany, and eventually the period from December 25 to January 6 became known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. Whether your Christmas entails bingewatching the Home Alone series in wintry shades of solitude, or painting the town red, white and gold on a quest to spread the holiday cheer, we at MTTN hope you have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
— Ananya Roy for MTTN