Christmas. Yes Christmas. A nicely packaged and marketed festive Day for all around the world. I still wonder why equatorial countries try to turn their cities and malls into winter wonderlands. It's like Xmas and snow are synonymous, when it isn't.
I'm not even sure if Jesus Christ ever saw a speck of snow during his lifetime. Can someone tell me if it snows in Bethlehem (Baitulmuqaddis)?
Anyway, sometime during the last century, Christmas became Xmas, and Santa Claus appeared as the symbol of commercial Xmas. Yuletide season now also came with the ubiquitous christmas tree and the yule log.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not knocking Christmas. I am just wondering what the original Christmas spirit was like, long before marketing executives decide that pine trees, christmas stockings, santa claus, elves and flying reindeers should be icons that promotes yuletide season.
My own childhood memories of Christmas are plenty. Eventhough I am a Muslim, I cannot ignore, throughout the five decades of my life, the many Christmases that I have experienced and seen.
I remember watching, as a kid, Frank Capra's melodramatic classic It's A Wonderful Life starring James Stewart - a somewhat loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic A Christmas Carol. No Christmas movie since has ever came close to touching it.
I also remember watching an animated cartoon about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer and was completed fascinated by the fact that Santa brings presents to all Christian children on the night of Christmas.
I remember going caroling during Christmas with my foster parents in Bexley, Kent, England, in the early 80s. I was shivering in the cold evening and trying and failing miserably to remember the words to Silent Night.
I also remember finding a coin in my first ever Christmas fruitcake and exchanging presents with my foster siblings.
It was like raya, but with snow, hot chocolate and wine.
What I liked most about Christmas is that it felt good and warm. A lot of love going around. A lot of partying.
Raya is more solemn.
In Kuala Lumpur, today, Christmas has taken on a very commercial turn. I was at the Curve last night and the place was packed - Christians and non-Christians - having expensive christmas eve dinners and drinks, and preparing to party the night away. Of course, the whole place has been transformed into the inevitable winter wonderland again.
I see lots of people wearing Santa hats. I was surprised to see also quite a few wearing the devil's horns. These people must have lost the plot somewhere along the line. There were also others who sported reindeer horns that blinked in the night.
Nevertheless, everyone looked happy. I guess this is the modern spirit of Christmas that we Malaysians have come to embrace.
To all my Christian friends - Happy Christmas. May love and friendship be the guide for all of us in the coming years. Feliz Navidad.