a time for tidings
With a jingle of bells and winter smells- it's finally here. Christmas is perhaps the only Christian festival that is celebrated with an equal amount of munificent joy and happiness all across the world. The entire Christian community and even some non-Christians wait for the 25th December every year to regale in fun and festivity.
'Christmas' is a chime that reminds us of twinkling pine trees, stockings hanging over fireplaces, streets covered with crystal snowflakes and a sleigh pulled by a pack of reindeer with red-nosed Rudolf in the lead and jolly old St. Nicholas in the driver's seat.
Oh, yes- the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus! To the adults of the Christian community, it means a time of rejoicing and sharing with each other the warmth of the heart. It also is a memorandum of Jesus Christ, his miraculous birth and his preaching's for leading a faithful life guided by the Holy Spirit. For the children, Christmas casts a different type of spell. It means making and exchanging cards, singing carols, cutting the best Christmas trees and ornamenting them with lights, sprinkles, candy canes, colorful chains and a twinkling star on the peak. The purpose of decorating Christmas trees of course holds a more profound gist, which I presume most of you already know.
The evergreen tree has been traditionalized for its resemblance to the everlasting spirit of Jesus Christ and the belief of his resurrection. The colorful lights that glorify the surroundings of each tree signify the wake of enlightening brought to the world on the eve of Christ's birth. And the star that shines superciliously on top signifies the Northern star that guided the three wise men towards the barn in Bethlehem where little Jesus was born- they would be there to proclaim the glory, harmony and peace that this child was to bring into the world. And this tiding is what blessed the Christian community with the joyous day called Christmas- which in Old English means 'Christ Mass' or 'the celebration of this day of Christ'.
Essentially, the evolution of Christmas and all that is part of the tradition took a long time to evolve. That's why today Christmas not only signifies an auspicious holiday, but it also implies the hanging of wreaths, the signing of carols, the beauty of decorative trees, the magic of Santa Clause and the joy of giving gifts.
Predominantly, the most alluring part of Christmas and the magic that it holds is encircled around that ageless, timeless, deathless white-bearded man who gives out gifts on Christmas- Santa Clause.
Today, Santa Clause has become a named engraved into every Christian child's heart. He has become an idol of toys, treats, and tenderness. He is also an inspiration to do only good deeds the whole year round in promise of receiving the most wanted things on Christmas Eve.
According to a chronological account, Santa Claus signifies the life of Saint Nicholas, who was renowned for his munificence to the poor. He was a Roman Catholic bishop, who lived during the 4th-century in Asia Minor. As the story goes, Saint Nicholas once helped a man's daughter with her dowry by anonymously dropping a bag of gold down the chimney. After helping the man's second and third daughters in similar manner, he was caught in the act. In recognition of his generosity, the practice of dropping gifts down the chimney was established. The Orthodox Church later raised St. Nicholas to a position of great esteem. It was in his honor that Russia's oldest church was built. For its part, the Roman Catholic Church honored Nicholas as one who helped children and the poor. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of children and seafarers. His name day is December 6th.
In the Protestant areas of central and northern Germany, St. Nicholas later became known as der Weinachtsmann. In England he came to be called Father Christmas. And as St. Nicholas made his way into the United States with Dutch immigrants, he became Santa Claus. Once Santa Clause entered America, he was transformed into a mythical reality and became every child's Christmas Hero.
Christmas is a time that is truly special. It is a time for sharing, caring, giving and rejoicing. It bears the tiding of humanity.
By Farzana Yasmeen
The sun is yet to shine
It was a rather cold morning…colder than the rest, that is. The gray mist turned the slightest possibility of daylight into a far-fetched dream. There were children on the streets as usual, playing their made-up games. Some of them were playing hopscotch. A few others, younger ones, were begging for a turn. The ones that became too pleading were shoved away and they retreated back to their seats on the pavement. They watched the luckier ones throw pebbles at the targets, while shivering furiously from the cold that their tiny skeletal bodies could just not resist.
Among the innumerable trimmed houses in the vicinity, with spruce balconies and rooftop gardens, only two of the domiciles had hoisted a green flag with a glowing crimson circle in the center. Only two…. And regretfully, it was the 16th of December, 2003- our beloved Victory day.
All of this was, of course, pitiably cynical. For it was a day when not a single rooftop should not have been draped with the brilliant colours of glory; colours of a land that signified our existence, our being. Scarlet and Jade, the delight of having a country of my own. Nine months of blood-shed, more than 3 million lives, thousands of arrests, hundreds of child slaughter, an agonizing holocaust in the heart of history… And everyone was taking it for granted! Only two flags! The indignity of it all!
To add onto the disgrace, outside, some imprudent shop owner was playing Hindi and English songs incessantly. And the mist continued to thicken…On television, they were showing a Bengali cinema when there should have been a documentary being broadcasted to every nook and corner of the land. Or maybe a short film, like 'Muktir Gann' ; which a father would be watching with tears in his eyes, his son sitting beside him, listening to his father narrate to him the left out bits of the film.
As the father drains into the ears of his son the part of history he had never seen, but now has acknowledged, the son is filled with the luminescence of respect, gratitude and love for all his ancestors that gave him this country with an immeasurable sacrifice that can never be repaid.
And as the hours crept on, the fog became heavier. The wind was making a sombre moaning noise. It seemed like a desolate wail of a thousand voices. Voices that held within them the ache and misery of prejudice- for bigotry we have done, are doing for over 32 years to the souls that have given us an opportunity to live, to breathe of our own. Perhaps we will always remain chauvinists.
This year there are two flags; maybe next year there will be no flags at all. In the way we walk today, it won't be surprising. No one is upset after judging what we could have had and what we hold in our hands today. No one cares except, perhaps, the wailing wind that pleads for more orbs of crimson on an emerald background. If there were more, then maybe the daylight would have a fair chance.
It's almost evening and the sun is, still, yet to rise…
By Farzana Yasmeen
Have you changed very much or are you still the December I know? I have always envied your composure; your ability to remain cool no matter how insane everything gets around you. But when you are around, I have noticed how things somehow become quieter, people become calmer. Is it your unknown influence that affects us all? That day, I wore the first sweater of the season. And guess what? It smelled of you! I swear, it's like, you had somehow gotten into my sweater at night and the next morning as I struggled to get inside it, it had your smell; the smell of smoke and dry leaves. I had smelled then.
Pretty soon, everybody will be walking around, wrapped in wool. We'll all be a bunch of colourful sheep parading for your joy. I bet you will be having the laugh of your life. Then again, you have had a long life. You have seen my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and all those who lived before me. You have seen kings and queens, heroes and dictators. You have seen the most ordinary of men and women who came to this world and left without leaving any trace. You have seen them lead their lives, make mistakes. You know a lot more than I do but one of the things I love about you is that you don't preach. You're just there, observing me. I can feel your eyes on myself. I know you smile at my mistakes, laugh at my blunders, grumble at my stubbornness. I can feel your rage when the winds blow angrily, I can hear you sing through the cracks on the window, I can hear you cry through the rustle of the leaves. I can bathe in your silence in the morning mist.
The temperatures will begin to dip. My voice has already become hoarse. You bring home the cough syrups. You make the caffeine level in my blood go up higher. I am starting to drink five/six cups of coffee a day again (though secretly, so that mum doesn't find out). Old habits die hard. But you are there when I feel the warmth of the mug against my cool palms. You, my dear December, are in the froth of Nescafé, in the vapour that rises and mingles into invisibility from the hot coffee. I can taste you, and you taste the same as before.
And the cauliflower, peas and tomatoes are here too, much to my joy and to the dread of the little ones. I have grown fatter since you last saw me but hey, you're here, so I can finally hide those layers underneath the sweaters. But your presence reminds me not to obsess with weight, with the surface beauty that everyone is so hyped up about. I am just so comfortable around you, I don't need to buy myself confidence in a bottle of Ralph Lauren.
One reason why I can relate to you, December, is because you are very real. You are a cocktail of good and bad. You're nice to some of us and cruel to those who have no warm clothes. But believe me, December, it is not your fault as much as it is ours. If only we knew how to share instead of bingeing on winter sales. It is us who make you cruel to the children in the streets. If we had given them warm clothes, they too would smile at you. You remind me of how selfish I am at times and you make me want to change myself. Who knows, may be one day, I will change.
Now that you're here, the "pithas" will start pouring in. See those people clustered around the warmth of a fire on the footpath. The smell of "bhapa pitha" comes from their stoves. The pithas are being made to acknowledge your arrival. They taste you with the first bite of the sweet pithas.
December, you are so many things to all of us. To some of us living on the other side of the globe, you mean Christmas, Santa Claus, snow, carols and gifts. To many, you are the start of the wedding season. To most of us, you are hope. For it is in this month, that we make resolutions for the next year, to be a better person, student, daughter, son, friend, sister, brother, etc. People celebrate on the 31st. I do too, to honor a new beginning, all the new possibilities that will come along with a new year. But at the same time, I am sad to let go of you. For you're really my favourite month. You're the month of rebirth but you play this role in discretion. Even we don't realize how you change us till you're gone. Some of us never realize it at all.
You're the month of memories of what we've done in the last eleven months, of mistakes and failures, of achievements and successes, of joys and grief. You're the smell of Johnson's baby lotion on dry skin, the taste of strawberry balm on chapped lips. May all of us make the best of you and may you make the best of us. I hope we are all here for the next year you visit us, in the quiet way that you do every time. You are special, my December, you always will be.
With love… By Maliha Bassam
Sunbeams junior section's PT display
Sunbeams Junior section held their annual sports and PT display 2003 at the lush green grounds of Dhanmondi Women's complex, December 16.
London Grace hosts annual function
London Grace in Mohammadpur hosted their Winter Review Annual Function on 11th and 12th of December. It took place in the school grounds under a canvas roof. The entire school participated starting from the children as young as 3 years old. The children of kindergarten playacted the entire Cinderella fairytale. Little boys and girls usually cannot stand each other, at least the boys cannot. So it was a little surprising to see them performing a well-choreographed ballroom dance routine where Cinderella has so much fun that she loses track of time. All the little couples danced gracefully without any elbows poking any eyes. The transition of the weeping Cinderella to stunning princess was accompanied by lots of stage smoke. There was also a drama based on a verse by Rabindranath Tagore. It was taken from Bir Purush and the title role was very well acted out not by a "purush" but by a girl. The highlight of this part of the show was a bunch of attacking dacoits came running through the audience to pounce upon the Bir Purush. Other parts of the show included a dance sequence with lots of students dressed as cute little birds and ants. It was the classic Bangla rhyme about "moumachi moumachi, jao koi nachi nachi" (bees busy dancing and going someplace). The moral was that time is valuable and no one can or should be wasting any of it. Some of the students from the senior section did a play showing the entire process of seed germination. The whole process of development was shown very nicely with everyone depicting water, seed, plant etc. Some science teachers never give up do they? There was also a play about simple Ivan and the Beech Tree. Anyone who had Radiant Reading in school knows what this is. The evening ended with a dance and song routine depicting the history and different aspects of Bangladesh. The whole show was quite interesting in the way that it combined educational material with entertainment. Too bad the students could not get out of the educational bit even on a night like this.
By Ehsanur Raza Ronny
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