The first thought that pops into the mind at the mention of the month of December is Christmas. Right from the first day of December, Christmas fills the air. Streets bustle with people dressed in their holiday best, passersby exchange smiles, houses are decorated in hues of red, green and white, children make their snowmen with pointy noses and button eyes, trees are adorned and stores are crowded in the hope to buy the perfect presents. The nativity play is enacted around the world, midnight masses are held at churches, and the world seems to be full of cheer.
Adopted from the Manger in Bethlehem where Christ was born, the traditional rituals associated with the festival across the world don’t differ much. Caroling, for instance, was how the three wise men and the three shepherds welcomed the infant Jesus into the world. The Star of Bethlehem on top of the Christmas tree represents the guiding star that led the guests to where baby Jesus lay. The gifts we are so excited to unwrap on Christmas morning, are symbolic representations of the presents given to Jesus.
However, there is something else to Christmas that outshines all the other aspects–the spirit of joy, the spirit of love and most of all, the spirit of giving. This is a tradition that reminds us to be grateful for what we have and to share with others what they don’t have. The legend of Santa Claus has its roots in the same exuberant spirit. Santa is more than a legendary figure who lives in the North Pole and rides a sleigh pulled by reindeers. He is symbolic of the virtues of generosity, togetherness and hope. Let’s retrace the story of Santa.
The legend of Saint Nicholas has been told and retold every year. The lessons learnt from this legend tell us what Christmas is all about.