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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2737

Christmas in Europe: collective excitement amidst evolving political and social realities

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

On the eve of Christmas, with the food stalls throughout Europe standing empty and the never-ending queues for last-minute shopping – and bargain hunting – in full swing, our seasonal tendency for indulging in collective fun once again stands out, while dwarfing more traditional aspects of the great event, that includes taking part in a mass at church.

Although, Santa Claus may appear in a relatively thin attire this year, thanks to the unusually high Arctic temperatures, there are millions of folks who still think that developing a protruding belly like that of the portly gentleman on the sledge, at this time of the year is more than a mere aspiration, in the great annual exercise of being extremely merry with all the sensual elements in the top gear of activity - santa

In Britain, neither the looming threat of terror attacks nor the strikes – by railway men, airport staff and some post office staff – managed to dampen the spirit of Britons, when it comes to Christmas. On the contrary, the shops, online stores and parcel delivery companies explicitly point out record sales, infectious enthusiasm and of course, the national determination to enjoy the festivities to the full.

It is factually correct that a state of godlessness is slowly, but surely penetrating into the indigenous European psyche, something that the church of all major Christian denominations, except the Catholic Church, failed to address. This may be the reason that the heads of major denominations stubbornly refuse to get carried away with the spirit of fun that majority of ordinary men and women interpret as Christmas.

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With elected leaders in Europe showing reluctance to display their respective religious faiths in public in fear of being branded as politically incorrect and influential celebrities hiding the same for not to be seen as weak and irrational, there is very little that the church leaders can do to reverse the trend and make the religious component of Christmas eclipse the entertaining aspect, that include heavy eating, drinking and in the worst case scenario, drink-driving.

With the status that the religious hierarchy once enjoyed in society fast disappearing, the only thing that religious leaders can do is seeking divine intervention to restore the religious sense at the heart of Christmas, as the only credible alternative - however much unpalatable it may be - left is pinning their hopes on the likes of president-elect Donald Trump, who repeatedly said in his election campaign that singing ‘Merry Christmas’ is not something that he would ever be afraid of.

Christmas in Europe used to be enlivened by the combination of the abundance of snow, centuries-old traditions, charming church buildings and mushrooming Christmas stalls in public squares. Although, Europeans used to converge to a common point in accepting the central role of the Christ in their religious lives, they chose to quickly diverge, when it came to sticking to their respective customs and political allegiances as a way of protecting the identity of individual communities. They all, however, had one thing in common – to be at their finest on Christmas Day.

Despite the diminishing nature of religious element in Christmas, there are plenty of non-Christian communities in Britain – and in the rest of Europe too – who love to take part in the celebrations without being too dogmatic in exercising their respective religious faiths: there are plenty of families who erect Christmas trees while displaying decorations that go with it, both inside homes and in gardens; they love to take part in traditional Christmas lunch as a unit of family and exchange gifts too.

The existence of this aspect of Christmas among the communities does nurture the cohesion in society as a whole, which neither an oath taking nor endless legislation can ever bring about. In this context, Christmas is a unique event that makes a huge impact on the world, especially when the communities go through many upheavals as part of the inevitable realities in the process of evolutionary progress.

The Asian Tribune wishes its readers, merry Christmas!

- Asian Tribune -

Christmas in Europe: collective excitement amidst evolving political and social realities
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