Christmas In Bermuda & Around The World

December 26, 2014

[Written by Juanae Baker]

Christmas is an ancient and sacred religious holiday which has been celebrated for thousands of years by millions of Christians around the globe. It is observed as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the man who Christians believe to be the messiah and savior of the world.

But is Christmas only about Jesus? Well, in my opinion it should be, but in truth it really isn’t. The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world, even before the arrival of the messiah.

In countries with colder climates, many people rejoiced during this time of year as the worst of the winter was over and they could begin to look forward to warmer days and extended sunlight. Many European cultures celebrated the winter solstice, an astronomical phenomenon which marks the shortest day and longest night of the year.

For the southern hemisphere this occurs in June and the northern in December.

During this time of year cattle would be slaughtered and eaten to avoid having to feed them throughout the rest of the winter. For many, this was the only time of year when they had an abundance of fresh meat.

Coincidentally, wine and beers made earlier during the year would finally be fermented and ready for drinking, both contributing to the festive atmosphere during this time of year.

In the early years of Christianity, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. It wasn’t until the fourth century that church officials decided to observe the birth of Christ. Although biblical evidence suggests that Jesus’ birth may have occurred in the spring [shepherds don’t herd sheep during the winter], Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the date of remembrance.

There is much debate on the reason for this date but, as the young folk would say, it is what it is. And since we now have Christmas, it has arguably become the most celebrated worldwide occasion.

The first recorded memorial for Christmas was on December 25th, 336 in Rome and by the end of the eighth century it had permeated European and African societies. It was made a national holiday in the United States in the year 1870 and by the 1950’s Christmas traditions had trickled down to the average person in the United Kingdom.

Today, Christmas has become so much more than a religious celebration. It is a cultural and commercial phenomenon that continues to evolve with each passing year. Each country has its own celebrations and Christmas has, in many cultures, become the highlight of the social calendar.

In Australia, Christmas is celebrated in the middle of their summer holidays. In Egypt, where only 15 percent of the population is Christian, it is observed on the 7th of January, marking the end of the 43 days of Advent fasting.

In Serbia, a bundle of straw is placed under the dinner table as a symbol of the stable where Jesus was born and in Lebanon, instead of Christmas trees, families build manger scenes known as the “Nativity Crib”. In the Netherlands Santa Claus brings gifts on December 5th and in the Philippines you can hear carols being sung as early as September.

One thing that is true, no matter where you live, is that you cannot escape the ‘Christmas fever’. Whether you’re a believer of Christ or not, by the time December arrives, Christmas is all around you.

In Bermuda, the first sign of Christmas would have to be the carols being played on the radio immediately after the American Thanksgiving holiday. Next would be the Christmas decorations that go on sale in retail stores, enticing shoppers to get an early start on their Christmas shopping.

Children eagerly anticipate the annual Market Place Christmas Parade, while their parents agonize over what toys to buy them this year. By this time you are sure to find Dunkley’s Egg Nog resting neatly next to the milk in your local grocer, which is always a sure sign that Christmas is on the way.

And soon enough, you’ll start to see Christmas trees being sold on the roadside and homes will begin to glisten with Christmas decorations.

Before you know it, it is December 24th, the eve of Christmas. In most Bermudian homes, the aroma of cassava will fill the air in preparation for the massive dinner spread that awaits the next day. The living room will be lit by the lights on the Christmas tree and the crackling flame of the fire place will give warmth.

Children will run around in anticipation of the gifts that Santa, or their parents, will bring. And some will head out to church to celebrate their reason for the season, the birth of their savior.

Christmas means different things to different people. For some it is solely a time of celebration with their family and friends. For others it is a moment of gratitude for the things they have. Whatever it is that Christmas means to you and however you choose to celebrate, may it be in the spirit of love.

If you believe in Christ then you know that His greatest legacy is a legacy of love. What better gift to give your children, your family, your friends and your community.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

- Juanae Baker

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Comments (3)

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  1. .am says:

    “..celebrated for thousands of years..”

    FYI: 1678 years is not ‘thousands’

  2. UpsetwithVerdict says:

    Great write up!

  3. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL says:

    Actually, the Chinese new year celebration is the most celebrated holiday occasion in the world. Considering that over half the worlds population is Chinese and located in China.