HYDERABAD: Gifts are an integral part of Christmas. Over time, pop culture has redefined the idea of Christmas gifts in corporate offices, educational institutions and other public circles. Secret Santas are one of the common forms of gift-giving wherein a group of people exchange presents anonymously.
What’s more interesting are white gifts, that essentially work just like Secret Santas, but with a twist. “White gifts are way of sharing the joy of Christmas with those who belong to the weaker sections of the society,” said D Neetha Rathnakar, Chairperson (Christian education), Centenary Methodist English Church in Nampally. “Its is a symbolic gesture wherein we provide for those in need just as God provided us with jesus Christ.”
White gifts may be anything. It may contain daily supplies, blankets and sweaters to beat the cold, and clothes. Neetha added, “This year, our Church would distribute about 300 gifts to those in need.”In addition to gift-giving, some communities -- contrary to popular belief -- celebrate Christmas by keeping away from delicacies and non-vegetarian food during the four-six week period preceding the day of Christmas. It is called the season of advent in some churches and nativity fast among others.
Jayakar Danam, Associate pastor of Grace Community Baptist Church in Secunderabad explained, “During the season of advent many believe that they have to observe fast in anticipation of Jesus coming back to the Earth. It’s a customary belief mostly associated with several old churches.”
In the city, churches from all denominations including the Wesleyan Methodist, Church of South India (CSI) diocese, Baptist, Mennonite Brethren, Syro-Malabar Rite churches, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and Mar Thoma denominations and churches celebrate Christmas with fervour. The GHMC has also conducted extensive drives to distribute gifts among the weaker sections throughout the week.