X'mas Cheer in the City
By Suhas Yellapantula | Published: 25th December 2013 09:02 AM |
It’s Christmas time once again with the festive spirit permeating the air in the city. For Hyderabadis, it is time for visiting the church, feast on cake and pudding, decorate the Christmas tree, hang Advent wreaths and stockings and to create Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. It is time for sending Christmas cards, exchange greetings, attend the midnight Mass and giving and receiving of presents. It is time to create beautiful memories with one’s family.
“We start Christmas celebrations from the first week of December. All of us celebrate thanksgiving till November 3 and then start planning for Christmas. In the western countries, they celebrate Christmas in the last week of the December, but we start in the first week itself. Then advents start and we tell the children about the traditions of the festival,” says Sandhya Pakerla, an assistant professor in English. Celebrating Christmas in the traditional manner by attending the service at church and visiting their near and dear ones afterwards is what Tax associate Ethel Apeksha an her family do on Noel. “We start Christmas celebrations by going to the church on 24th night to attend the midnight mass. After the proceedings, we come back and have cake and wine. On Christmas day, I will be meeting a few relatives and attend a few parties,” quips Apeksha. And what is Christmas without carols? Usually a group of church choir singers visit their friends and family and serenade them by singing Christmas melodies after which they exchange good wishes and share sweets. “We start our day with a church ceremony where we sing carols and celebrate the birth of christ, followed by a fellowship lunch with family,” says Philip Koshy, a project manager in the city.
Yuletide also means gorging on delicious dishes like Fried Chicken, salads for the urban population and bagara rice, coconut rice and chicken curry for the rural population.
“Food is a very important part of Christmas. All families get together and cook a special meal. The Christmas cake is a must, it has been a tradition for ages now. Not just in urban India, but even in rural areas, you will find cake on Christmas day. Apart from that there are lots of goodies like butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, donuts and so on. With the western influence creeping in, some families also cook the Christmas turkey,” explains Sandhya. The western influences certainly seem to be cropping up agrees Apeksha says, “I look forward to cake and wine during the festival. The Christmas cake is a wonderful tradition which I like a lot. Meals during the Christmas period are always exciting.” Since it’s time to celebrate the goodness in life, healthy eating takes a back seat when it comes to watching the calories. Mark Alphonsus, who works in the advertising industry loves binge eating on Christmas. “We have a really wide spread on Christmas. It’s my favourite part of the festival because there’s a huge feast with some really delicious food. The cake and turkey are specially made and is certainly something to look forward to,” he gushes.
Apart from the carols and the delicious food, the festival also provides an opportunity for families to come together and celebrate. “Christmas is supposed to be about spending time with family. We sometimes get carried away with other things but essentially it is about family,” says Sheela Sarah Mathews, social activist. For those who are unable to meet relative due to different reasons, the festival is a good time to meet everyone all in one place. “This Christmas we are planning to celebrate with our grandparents as it is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with them. I will also be having lunch with my extended family so it’s really nice to meet everybody,” says Philip.
“I have come down from Goa and my brother has also arrived last night from Singapore. In our household, it’s a must to celebrate Christmas with the family. Now matter how busy we are and which corner of the world we’re in, we make it a point to meet during Christmas as a family,” explains Mark, while adding that he would be back in Goa for the New Year’s eve celebrations.
Festival of Giving
Yuletide is also known as the festival of joy and giving and many people celebrate the festival by giving to the poor. “During Christmas, we celebrate the birth and the life of Jesus Christ. That’s why giving becomes so important. Though I like to shop for myself and wear something nice, my focus is on giving things to others and make them happy. Christmas is more about giving,” says Sandhya. Apart from giving gifts and clothes to the poor, some also provide them with food on Christmas day. “I give clothes to the needy. We also have fellowship lunch or dinner with the poor on the day,” adds Philip.