In Nigeria, the onset of harmattan, a period of cold weather, precedes Christmas. It is that period of the year when we muffle ourselves in layers of clothes to protect ourselves from the biting cold at night. And when we hang our clothes on the line, they will dry quickly.
Christmas heralds its approach not just with festive cheer, but also with other telltale signs. The Harmattan wind brings chapped lips and dry skin, forcing us to reach for lip gloss and Vaseline cream to combat the harshness. As Christmas day draws closer, the trees lining the roads become cloaked in the ochre hues of the season, their leaves dusted with the earth’s earthy tones. Houses, too, don the same ochre coat, their roofs veiled in a film of dust particles settled amidst the festive preparations. On untarred village roads, speeding cars kick up whirling spirals of dust, dancing in the dry air.
Christmas has been celebrated for centuries by christians and non-christians in many countries of the world. Some historical stories have it that it was an ancient Greek festival that was christianized to Christmas to make it acceptable to practitioners of Christianity. Other Bible scholars posit that Christmas is the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ, who was born more than two thousand years ago in Nazareth.
In today’s world, Christmas is the most celebrated as well as the most popular religious festival. But why do billions of people, who profess diverse religious faiths celebrate Christmas? The reason for their celebration of Christmas is not difficult to find. Jesus Christ, whose birthday we mark on December 25, was one of the greatest religious figures, who walked the face of the earth. And the extraordinariness of His birth, the great teachings He espoused, and the miracles He performed, all command us to commemorate His birthday.
Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate on every December 25, was born through an immaculate conception based on biblical stories, which are contained in the synoptic gospels. His mother, the virgin Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, had no coitus with Joseph before she conceived Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ was the incarnation of God’s word. He was partly divine and partly human. And He was the only son of God, who was sent to us for the salvation of our souls. Jesus Christ died in order that we may live and have eternal life if we exercise faith in His name and live in accordance with His commands.
During his earthly religious ministry, He performed many astounding and astonishing miracles, at which people marvelled. He calmed the tempestuous sea, healed the sick, walked on the sea, and raised the dead to life. And when there was shortage of wine at a wedding feast, He turned water into wine.
More so, the teachings of Jesus Christ, which were revolutionary, had the potentialities of upturning the foundation of the leadership architecture of His people, then. The doctrinal base of His messages was love, however. And the importance of receiving salvation in order that we shall enter the kingdom of God was another core message that underlined His teachings.
However, today, not all members of the different sects of Christianity celebrate Christmas to worship and revere Jesus Christ. There are endless disputations regarding His exact date of birth. Christians who do not commemorate His birth argue that He was not born on December 25, citing historical and climatic facts. And the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have incredible imaginings about earthly paradise posit that Jesus Christ did not give us command to celebrate His birthday.
But the more worrisome thing about the practitioners of Christianity is that they engage in acts that negate the teachings of Jesus Christ. They utter profanities and perpetrate sundry immoral deeds. Some Reverend Fathers, for example, who were caught in the act of pederasty were defrocked. And some pentecostal pastors who do bed female members of their churches were taken to the obloquy.
As the adherents of the Christian faith have deviated from the practice of true Christianity, our celebration of Christmas has lost its true essence. Christmas is no longer the time for the remembrance of the birthday of Jesus Christ, a man whose death will guarantee us eternal life if we exercise faith in Him and obey His commands. And Christmas is no longer the time for well-heeled people to show empathy to the poor and the under-privileged people in our society as directed by our Messiah, who is Jesus Christ.
But sadly, over the years, our celebration of Christmas has taken a sinister and worldly hue and dimension. People commit all manner of heinous crimes to acquire money with which they will celebrate Christmas in flamboyant styles. While some people abduct other people for ransom, others divert public money entrusted in their care into their private pockets to raise money for their celebration of Christmas. And there are people who engage in ritual killings to make money for Christmas celebrations.
As we commemorate the birthday of Jesus Christ, which is called Christmas, let us ponder on the symbols of Christmas. And let’s reflect on Jesus Christ’s teachings, which cover all areas of human life. Our doing the aforementioned things will illuminate our lives with hope, imbue us with faith, and give us knowledge that will make us better human beings and Christians.
I wish you a merry Christmas celebration and happy New Year in advance.