Glad tidings of comfort and joy to one and all who are reading this!
In China Christmas is a non-event, apart from the fact that in Beijing (and probably Shanghai, Chengdu etc) we have seen Xmas lights/trees/Santa decals etc. etc for weeks and weeks because there is a view that this is the western thing to do – big it up, but without any concept of what it is about. But these days what IS it about? This day is, after all, an artificial construct, selected in 350 AD, by Pope Julius 1 to represent the date of Christ’s birth
For years people in the west have been moaning on about how Christmas has become too ‘secular’, too ‘commercial’, has ‘lost touch with its religious roots’ and what the ‘true’ meaning of the festival is. Certainly when one sees TV footage of crowds cramming into the shopping malls in the days before Christmas, hell-bent on buying anything and everything, one is inclined to agree.
And yet, and yet …on Christmas Day a wonderful silence and peace decends over towns and cities – the clamour of commerce stills, and there is a moment or two when one can hear the ‘still, small voice of calm’ even as one is frantically shoving the turkey into the oven, dealing with ancient Aunt Gertrude, or stopping two five-year olds squabbling over their gifts. Christmas is so many things – a time for families to reconnect, a frighteningly lonely day where some feel that they are totally forgotten, an orgy of food and drink, a magical time for small children, a sentimental time of remembrance for the older generations, a time where women up and down the land are close to exhaustion from fulfilling all the expectations of their nearest and dearest.
Whether one has any religious convictions or not, would we be without this special day? I don’t think so. Apart from anything else, it provides a full-stop to the year.
Well the reason is that on Boxing Day (British terminology for 26th December) it will be the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth. Will the current government roll out the red carpet (so-to-speak) and hold big ceremonies to commemorate the event?…or will it all be something of a damp squib. We all wait to see.