Merry Christmas to my readers! I have several Christian friends who are kind enough to invite me to prayers and celebrations. We exchange gifts, cut the cake, enjoy gossip, and eat dinner. Families and friends gather for Christmas celebrations – this is the spirit of Christmas.
This year, I will not be in Pakistan for Christmas. Perhaps, my Christmas Eve will be spent at an airport. I will miss the evening, and the festivities, which are extremely family-driven in Pakistan.
I think the same runs all over the world. The occasion demands that families gather at each other’s house, show affection to one another, bid farewell to the ongoing year, and welcome the New Year by wishing each other happiness.
For decades, Christian families have been celebrating Christmas in Lahore with family get-togethers and religious rituals, no matter what the economic indicators are. I have seen since my birth that no matter what the economic situation is, people spend lavishly on Christmas, Eids, and other festivals.
Every Christian family enters into Christmas celebration mode at the beginning of December, and each day is filled with gatherings, prayers, cake, and food.
How can we discuss Christmas without mentioning the centrepiece of the holiday, the Christmas tree? I think the glow of a glistening Christmas tree fills the halls of almost every house. Children adorned their Christmas tree with ornaments they had purchased, and they also hid dolls, apples, sweets, tinsel, and balloons inside the tree.
A theatrical play on Jesus Christ’s life is a necessary component of the celebration in addition to food and a Christmas tree. Children typically carry out this task. Almost all Christian adults, in my opinion, participated in the play at least once while still children.
No Christmas is complete without shopping. But the problem is that Christmas festivity is not about December 25. Festivities start at the start of December, while December 25 brings a culmination to it. The month-long festivity demands that people buy several dresses and shoes. Shopping is becoming an expensive pastime for low-income families. But they go ahead with a modest dressing.
Bishops and other members of the church have a very busy time as they visit families every night, sing prayers, take traditional feasts, and leave the house.
Christmas brings delight for children as Santa gives them gifts. This is another name of Eidee.
Just like Muslims have Chaand Raat, for Christians, the December 24 evening is the peak of festivity. People spend time in the church from 10pm to 12am for service and on December 25 10am to 12pm.
However, when I read that the government has implemented steps for the tight security of churches on Christmas Day, I feel uncomfortable. Without a doubt, the event causes the police department to employ large-scale security measures. Around 6,000 police officers and other government workers from Lahore were stationed at important sites throughout the city this year, including churches, Christian communities, parks, and other places. Visitors to churches on December 24 and Christmas were only allowed in after showing proper identification and through a thorough inspection in order to attend religious sermons and other events. At the city’s exit and entrance points, both persons and vehicles were examined more often.
Christian employees at government offices and university institutions were given time off. On Wednesday, a Christmas cake-cutting ceremony was performed at the Evacuee Trust Property Board office. The Pakistan Health Support Staff Association and the Nursing Staff of Lahore General Hospital organised a unique Christmas celebration at the Post Graduate Medical Institute/Lahore General Hospital. In addition, the Non-Teaching Staff Association of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore organised a Christmas ceremony for its Christian employees at City Campus.