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Sabrina A.

So it is Christmas

General Publication

As the title itself says: “So it’s Christmas” … That’s right, the year is coming to an end. It was an atypical year, many things happened and even despite the confinement, the result of a pandemic, the year went by.

The Post title chosen today was no accident. For those who don’t know, the song is from John Lennon & Yoko Ono (Happy Xmas (War is over)). It is sung every year in the four corners of the world, and I believe that although it was written at the time of the Vietnam War as a mean of protesting the events of that time, it remains current today.

The year 2020 was a constant war against an invisible and terrible enemy, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus – 2), or commonly called COVID-19. As in the Vietnam War, the bodies are many (Vietnam = 3,148,078 dead vs COVID-19 = 1,348,969 dead) and the counting doesn’t stop. So it’s Christmas and the flame of hope resurfaces, the world united sings in one voice:

“…

A very merry christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

…”

So it is Christmas... and Figueiras community celebrates

Despite the current global health situation, Figueira da Foz continues to struggle day after day.

The public celebration of the end of the year is officially canceled, but the city shines. Its residents assemble Christmas ornaments in houses, squares, supermarkets, stores, reminding each member of the community, on this date of hope, that we are together, and we will overcome the difficulties.

And at each entrance to the city visitors can observe the ornaments, that invite them to come in and stay a little longer … to admire, whether day or night, the wonders that Figueira has to offer.

The Celebration of Christmas in Different Cultures

As previously discussed here in other Sun with Style post, more specifically on the advent celebration, the Portuguese population is predominantly Christian and Catholic. That is why we see so much effort by the Figueiras community to spread the brilliance and hope of this date throughout the city. Despite being a milestone in the Christian calendar, Christmas was not always this way celebrated.

The Beginning of the Christmas Celebration

The date was already celebrated 7 thousand years before the birth of Jesus. Yes, ancient civilizations celebrated the winter solstice, the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. According to Alexandre Versignassi and Thiago Minami: “… the return of the longest days meant the certainty of harvests the following year. And then it was just a party.”

¹Jews, on the other hand, celebrate Hanukkah, the cleansing of the Jerusalem temple in 165 BC at that time. There are many similarities between Hebrew and Christian Christmas, since both have a family character, gifts for children, symbols of the celebration in visible places and the importance given to the element of light, but the reason for celebration is quite another. Hanukkah, a festival of lights in Hebrew, reminds them of victories against oppression, discrimination and religious persecution. The date marks the victory of the Jews over the Greeks over two thousand years ago, in the battle for freedom to follow their religion.

India has December 25 as a holiday for the Christian festival, but on its Hindu calendar the festival of lights (Diwali) takes place in November. It is very similar to Christian Christmas with family gathering, prayer and supper, but the celebration is about ³ Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, a demon.

China does not mention Christmas anywhere, in its calendar and in Japan the date is fixed as a celebration without a religious nature, but a commercial one, such as Valentine’s Day, for example.

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is related to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. As in the Advent wreath, the green so well represented by the branches of the pine are also a pagan reverence for the trees, remembered on this date by the Christmas tree.

4Another version about the origin of the Christmas tree, indicates Germany as the country of origin. Martin Luther (1483-1546), author of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, looking at the sky through some pine trees that surrounded the trail, saw it intensely starry, looking like a diamond necklace topping the treetops. Taken by the beauty of it, he decided to pull a branch to take home. Arriving there, excitedly, he placed the small pine tree in a pot with soil and, calling his wife and children, decorated it with small candles lit at the ends of the branches. Then he arranged colored papers to decorate it a little more. It was what he had seen outside. Walking away, everyone was amazed to see that illuminated tree that seemed to have given life. Thus the Christmas tree was born.

Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon, Portugal during the Christmas season

We from Sun with Style, wish everyone, regardless of religion or belief, a Merry Christmas.