The Christmas Spirit by Annette J Dunlea
The true meaning of Christmas which is the season of goodwill, charity and the birth of Christ had been lost.It is essentiallly a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.The word Christmas is derived from the Old English word “Cristes maesse” which literally translates to Christ's Mass. Today we decorate our homes, display a crib and a decorated Christmas tree and cook the great Turkey and Ham meals inviting relatives for the feast.We eat and drink too much and fall asleep in front of the television.The tradition of attending Christmas mass is sadly no longer a tradition in many Irish homes.The tradition of gift-giving has a strong association with Paganism.The gifts started out very modest and evolved to include more elaborate expressions of love.In recent times it became all about buying and receiving gifts. Commercialism had ruined the religious feast.The good thing about the recession it has forced people to re-elevaluate their lives and consider what is important to them: their family, home and health.True love is spending time together and being considerate to one another. Gifts need not cost a fortune to make a big impact.With the large numbers of unemployed in Ireland people have been forced to budget for Christmas and get creative about presents.The average Irish household will spend €500 on presents this Christmas.
One can have the Christmas spirit cheaply: light Christmas candles to signify the symbolic hospitality for Mary and Joseph. The candle was a way of saying there was room for Jesus' parents in these homes even if there was none in Bethlehem.On Christmas eve the kitchen table was again set and on it were placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could avail of the welcome.One can send Christmas mass bouquets or cards to family and friends to tell them that you are thinking fof them at this special time of the year. You cannot afford to bring the kids to town for the pantomine go to their school plays instead and listen to their heavenly voices sing Christmas carols.Take photographs of the children and place in photoframes as gifts for godparents or relatives.Make the Christmas dinner cheaper by sharing the cost with family and each wife buying and cooking a course: one does starter, another main course and another the dessert. Everybody eats like a lord on a budget and no family member is excluded. Too many children in the family make a family agreement to set the spending limit per child or select family members to buy for the youngest or their godchildren only.Have a list make sure every child gets a gift.Bring the children to the wren boys procession on St.Stephen's Day.Add holly to picture frames and vases.Leave out on Christmas Eve a mince pie and bottle of Guinness for Santa and a carrott for Rudolph to snack on. Decorate the Christmas table with Christmas crackers they are cheap and cheerful.In many households, part of the fun of eating Christmas pudding is finding a trinket that predicts your fortune for the coming year. Finding a coin is menat to signify that you will become wealthy. A ring means you will get married; while a button predicts bachelorhood. The idea of hiding something in the pudding comes from the tradition in the Middle Ages of hiding a bean in a cake that was served on Twelfth Night. Whoever found the bean became "king" for the rest of the night.Display a poinsettia in the house as it is a traditional Christmas flower. In Mexico the poinsettia is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night".Add a little fun by placing mistletoe over the doors, for that Christmas kiss.At Christmas, it is traditional to exchange kisses beneath the mistletoe tree.
Santa Claus became a part of the Christmas tradition around the Middle Ages however, his part in Christmas was not popularized until after he was depicted as a happy cuddly old man wearing a red and white furry suit in the 19th century. This figure of Santa was immediately captured by celebrants all over the world. The character of Santa Claus is said to be inspired by Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop, who went around giving the poor children of his village gifts. The legend of Santa centres around the North Pole and his magical workshop of elves. Every year he makes presents for those children who were nice. Those who were naughty received nothing but a lump of coal. The figure of Santa has become inseparable from the tradition of Christmas on a whole.
Homemade Christmas cakes, puddings and mince pies are always a treat as a family gift and can be personalised. They don't need to cost a fortunate and it says I took time to think and bake this for you.You could make a table centre piece or wreath for a loved one.Give a child a book and give them the gift of reading for life. You are never lonely with a good book in your hand.Great gift ideas include : dvds, vouchers or phone credit.Selection boxes and soft toys are always a winner with smaller kids.Charity vouchers giving a donation to Africa etc for the older caring person will touch them and help less fortunate too. Christmas is not cancelled, but 53 per cent of people are planning a low-budget Christmas this year, according to a National Consumer Agency survey.The best Christmas is one that you can afford and doesn't leave you in debt and worrying about bils for the rest of the year.The Christmas shop is more expensive for it includes the traditional Christmas expenses such as food, drink, presents and decorations.Before you go shopping list all your bills and expenses and write a list of what you need and stick to it. If you have the internet shop around for the best prices in stores, they have many bargains at this time of the year and all compete for Christmas trade.Many run buy two and get third free especially on cosmetic sets.We all overbuy too much food at Christmas and throw out alot. Be realistic about what you need, the local shops will be open the day after Christmas again.Keep your receipts and always use you reward card for points.
Another important part of the Christmas celebrations are the singing of carols. These have their origins in the past well before the concept of Christmas carols was actualized. Most of the popular carols we now sing were written in the 19th century and were sung from house to house near the Christmas season. Soon the church adopted this tradition in the 1820's, giving these songs a greater sense of reverence.During the celtic tiger we got carried away with buying on credit.We became obessesed with materialism.The new mantra is small is beautiful and people are putting more thought into their presents. People are waiting for the last minute sales and value for money. The new thrill is getting a bargain.Remember to shop local and support local business.Have a great Christmas and happy new year.In Irish we say Nollaig Shona Daoibh agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Daoibh.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland