Page 7 - HGS Suburb News 144 - December 2020
P. 7

Youth   C thousands of Christmas cards will   Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘God Rest Ye   companies have adopted the more

                             How Christmas came to be

             hristmas is fast approaching and
                                           Merry, Gentlemen’. Not least, Dickens
                                                                             general slogan “Happy Holidays” and
         be  printed  with  each  one  depicting
                                           coined the now famous phrase
                                                                             it has  even been  suggested  that we
         stockings by the fireside, coloured  ‘Merry Christmas’!
                                                                             refer to the Christmas tree as a ‘Holiday
         lights, and, of course, a Christmas tree.
                                              We must also thank Queen Victoria  Tree’ instead. Have you readers put up
         But how did this universally celebrated
                                           for making Christmas what it is today.  your ‘Holiday Trees’ yet?
         festival come to be the Christmas we all
                                           While the original tradition of the
         love today?                                                            And don’t think I have forgotten
                                           ‘Christmas tree’ came from Germany,  about Santa Claus! Santa Claus is
            Many are familiar with the religious  the idea of decorating  your tree with
         significance of Christmas as the day                                actually based on a monk in Turkey
                                           lights did not enter British culture until
         Christ was born. Yet the origins of this                            called St Nicolas, who gave all his
         winter celebration actually date back to   an image of the royal family with their  wealth away to the sick and poor, and
                                           Christmas tree at Windsor Castle was
        the Roman festival Saturnalia, in honour                             travelled around Europe protecting
         of the God of Agriculture, Saturn. For                              children. He became famous less than
                                                                             150 years ago when he was depicted in
        one week in December, public banquets                                                                      Celebrations of Light
        were held and slaves were even given                                 a cartoon, wearing his iconic red suit
                                                                             and black boots.
        freedom! What you readers may not
        know, however, is that Christ’s real                                   But Christmas has not always been      he arrival of winter brings with it darkness at 5 o’clock
                                                                            an innocent festival. In both the Soviet   Tand even colder, wetter weather than before. Though
        birthday is still a mystery. The day of
        December 25th, was actually randomly                                Union  and  Nazi  Germany,  Christmas   this can seem dismal, one upside is that against the
                                                                            was seen as a threat. On Christmas      backdrop of darkness, light shines even brighter. There
        chosen to carry on the traditions of the
        Saturnalia festival.                                                Day  in  atheist  Moscow,  children  were   are several celebrations of light around this time of year,
                                                                            encouraged to spit on crucifixes. In    Chanukah  (a  Jewish  festival)  obviously  being  one,  but
           It  may  be  difficult  to  believe,  but
        Christmas has not always been a part                                Nazi Germany, Christmas was stripped    also Diwali (a Hindu/Jain/Sikh) festival (which Kaya has
                                                                            of its religiousness and used as political   written about in her article). The Suburb also celebrates
        of our history. When the Puritans came
        to power in 1647 , Christmas was cancelled!                         propaganda. It is interesting to reflect   New Year’s Eve with a fireworks show, and there are many
                                                                            on this often-forgotten darker history   displays  around  Bonfire  Night.  Light  as  a  symbol  has
       They believed Christmas was a wasteful
                                                                            of Christmas.                           connotations of hope, happiness, and goodness, and the
        festival which distracted from the pure
                                                                               Even in Britain, before WWII, Christmas   fact that it is celebrated across different cultures just
        ideas of Christianity. Even in America,
                                                                            had mostly been celebrated by the       shows that these feelings are universal.
        Christmas fell out of popularity after the
                                                                            upper classes. Now, however, the beauty    In the case of Chanukah, light is the physical
       Americans revolted against the British
                                          1848 engraving of the royal family decorating a tree.
                                                                            of Christmas shines in its ability to bring   representation of a miracle: that the candles could burn
       because they considered Christmas to
                                          printed in the news. Queen Victoria
       be an English custom.                                                everyone together, rich and poor, no    for eight days when really there was only enough oil left
                                         herself wrote: “My beloved Albert took                                     for one. The story is one of success against the odds, hope
          But then Charles Dickens came                                     matter their culture or religion. Millions
                                         me to my tree and table, covered by                                        in the darkness, and the triumph of good over evil. The
       along.  You  may  be  familiar  with  his                            of people celebrate Christmas not for
                                                                                                                    religious significance of Diwali varies, but the most
                                         such numberless gifts, really too much,  its religious significance, but because it
       novel ‘A Christmas Carol’, which was  too magnificent.” In modern terms, one
                                                                           is a holiday! It is unique in that non-  common belief is that it celebrates Rama and Sita’s defeat
       the Christmas production at Henrietta
                                         could say the image of the royal family
                                                                           Christians and Christians alike partake   of Ravana’s evil army. On their way back home, they were
       Barnett last year. For the first time,  around their Christmas tree went ‘viral’.
                                                                           in the  laughter  and the  holiday spirit,   guided by the lights their neighbours had placed in their
       Dickens portrayed Christmas as a time
                                            What some people don’t realise is                                       windows, and in honour of this, it is customary for people
       of goodwill and generosity towards the                              making it truly universal.
                                         that many customs we associate today                                       celebrating Diwali to burn oil in ‘divas’ on their windowsills.
       less privileged, and he popularised                                    With the threat of Covid-19 robbing
                                         with Christmas are actually very recent                                    This is strikingly similar to the Jewish custom of lighting a
       Christmas Carols such as ‘Hark the                                  us of our big family Christmas, and in a
                                         and have little to do with the festival’s
                                                                           world becoming ever more polarised,      Chanukiah (8 branched candlestick) and placing them
       ‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore   religious significance. Rudolph the Red
                                                                           we are now in more need than ever of     on their windowsills for all to see. Though from a religious
       inspired the culture of giving gifts at Christmas.
                                         nosed Reindeer was only invented in
                                                                           some vital holiday spirit.               point of view, Christmas is not actually about light, the
                                         1939 as a way of luring customers into
                                                                                                   ALLIE G          beautiful displays of Christmas lights are one of the most
                                                                                                                    noticeable features of this time of year.
                                         a Chicago department store! In fact,
                                         there is still a lot of controversy around                                    In the darkness of winter, seeing lights in people’s
                                                                                                                    windows or even fireworks in the sky can really brighten
                                        whether Christmas is merely a national
                                                                                                                    my mood, at  a time  when hibernation  can  otherwise
                                         holiday – a time of giving gifts and
                                                                                                                    seem like the most attractive option. There is something
                                        sharing laughter – or a time of true
                                                                                                                     comforting and unifying about the fact that people all
                                        religious significance. It’s even said that
                                        the original meaning of Christmas has                                        across the Suburb (and indeed all over the world) are
                                        been “lost in a shopping spree”.                                             celebrating different things in similar ways, as if the need
                                                                                                                     to create light in the midst of darkness is somehow
                                           In reality, many people don’t celebrate
                                        Christmas as a religious festival, but
                                                                                                                     ingrained in human nature.
                                        enjoy  the opportunity to not  go to                                                                                                 ROSA  B
                                        school or work and spend time with   A gingerbread house I decorated, Christmas 2018.
                                        family. Because of this, American card   Today, gingerbread is a distinctive flavour often
                                                                          associated with Christmas.
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            iwali is a festival observed throughout the world, mainly  traditional designs and use a variety of colours, making them           Postcode
         Dby Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, which celebrates light over  very vibrant and beautiful.                     Email
         darkness, good overcoming evil and new beginnings and   Food is also a major part of the celebrations, with an
         opportunities. Diwali falls in late October to mid-November  assortment of dishes being served. Indian sweets, otherwise   Phone

         as the dates come from the Hindu calendar and it will be   known as Mithai are a staple part of Diwali, with most of them   Subscription amount (Minimum payment £15) ....£
         celebrated from 12 November to 16 November this year, with   being made up of flour and sugar and then fried. Many sweet   Fellowship donation* (Optional) ...................................£
         festivities lasting up to a week.                  treats are covered in gold or silver edible paper and can come in   (To support Fellowship, a Suburb charity, in its work for Suburb senior citizens)
           The word ‘Diwali’ is derived from the Sanskrit (an ancient  various shapes. Savory snack type dishes like samosas (triangle   Total ..................................................................................................£
         Indian language) word ‘Deepavali’, which means row of lighted  shaped parcels filled with vegetables) or bhel which is made   * I declare by making this donation that I want to Gift Aid my donations to
         lamps, in recognition of the return of deities Rama and Sita to  from puffed rice, vegetables and tamarind sauce are also   Fellowship House and am a UK taxpayer paying sufficient tax to meet the Gift
         Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. People celebrate by lighting   enjoyed through the week.               Aid on my donation. I agree to Fellowship receiving my details for this purpose.
         candles or oil lamps also known as  ‘diyas’, and placing them   People wear traditional clothing, such as saris in bright   (Delete the above declaration if you do not wish to Gift Aid your donation or do
                                                                                                                   not pay sufficient tax)
         anywhere they can, in houses or places such as on doorsteps to   colours and have  temporary henna tattoos on their hands. It is
         bring good energy into the home. Lighting candles can also be  the perfect occasion for everyone to get dressed up in fancy   I wish to pay:
         seen as a way to invite prosperity and good fortune into a   clothing. Many parties are also held which gives everyone an     by cheque (payable to HGS Residents Association). Please write
         household. Fireworks displays are popular too, whether at home   excuse for even more dressing up!        your address on the back of the cheque and send with this form to
         with family, or hosted by the local temple, which brings the   But in the end, Diwali is the best occasion for people to spend   the address below.
         community together to enjoy the moment.            time with their loved ones, eating good food and having fun. It     online via PayPal or with Credit or Debit Card – visit
            People also create Rangolis, beautiful patterns made from  unites people across the world and helps people create fun     by bank transfer to HGS Residents Association:
         coloured powders and rice, on the floor, to decorate and as a   memories that they will cherish for life.  Diwali celebrations show   Bank: HSBC, 897 Finchley Road, NW11 7NX Sort Code: 40-03-11
         sign of good luck, especially at the entrances of houses, to invite   a time of great festivity, light and colour!  Account number: 91605747
         good energy inside. Patterns can be anything from flowers to                                KAYA H        Please return this form to: The Membership Secretary, HGS Residents
                                                                                                                   Association, PO Box 67700, London NW11 1NS.  (SN144)
      SUBURB NEWS IS PRODUCED AND DELIVERED TO YOU BY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS                                                                             7
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