Christmas Day commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
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The Best Time of the Year
Ahh Christmas. What's not to love about Christmas! Spending quality time with your loved ones, the amazing food, the presents, the decorations and Christmas songs, it's my favourite festival of the year! Christmas is the festival I look forward to the most once we've passed the half way mark of the year and it's something everyone can enjoy even if you don't celebrate it.
There's just something in the air that gives me Christmas vibes and I'm just always happy. Maybe it's because Christmas is just a few days before the end of the year and you hit this reflection phase where everything in life just seems great.
Even though we don't get a white Christmas in Singapore, we get fantastic deals everywhere and that's kind of the same thing. Christmas shopping is a real treat too! For once, I actually feel excited about spending money to get my friends their Christmas gifts!
Hear the cash bells ringing
Christmas in Singapore? What does it mean? Christmas lights down Orchard Road? Advertisements for Inspiring the Next? Or am I wrong? Maybe it was Delighting you always. Goodness me, I have forgotten the Christmas Message. Whoops, I mean the message from the Christmas sponsors.
But then that says it all, I think. I am not a churchgoer or a Christian. I understand there is a difference. When you hear carols starting in October broadcast through shopping centres too help turn the cash registers over quicker, you already get that sinking feeling.
Did I say Carols? Is White Christmas a carol? What about Rudolph the Red Nosed Bandicoot? Or Jangle Bills, Jangle Bills....
Mind you, the thousands that flock to Singapore during the religious festivals such as Christmas add to Singapore's bottom line, tourist wise. But so do the lights in Little India at Deepavali, the decorations and month long markets at places like Joo Chiat during Puasa, as well as the less ostentatious excesses of Vesak Day, and of course, Chinese New Year which is at least more openly commercial.
I suppose people should really go to a church service at Christmas. What they celebrate there seems far removed from the bonanza of street lights along Orchard Road. At least, there are wow factors at some of the more flamboyant decorations in some of the malls but then, to be honest, that is the commercialisation of what is ultimately a matter of personal faith. What applies to the marketing of religious holidays is a totally different thing.
Celebrating Christmas is possible even as a non-Christian
As a non-Christian, I don't really celebrate it in the religious way in which it was intended, but I do enjoy the festive air that hangs around during this time of the year, along with some gift exchanges with friends (one does not simply say no to gifts). There's lots of jolly Christmas movies to watch every year, and the lightings along Orchard Road are great as well, although I do think that it is becoming much less spectacular than those of previous years, maybe due to the economic downturn, or efforts to become more environmentally-friendly.
The thing I'm probably really sick of is how Christmas carols start playing everywhere once December starts, or worse, once Deepavali ends. Because hey, one can only take that much of Jingle Bells/Silent Night/Santa Claus is Coming to Town no matter how different the rendition is!
Many years ago, I enjoyed seeing the Christmas decorations and lighting in the different shopping centers. But since the economy downturn, the decorations and lighting were becoming less impressive.
Shopping centers along Orchard Road used to compete with each other to put up the most impressive decorations and lighting. But in recent years, everyone was changing their themes. They were going "green" and that mean they want to save on electricity bill and would not put up so much lighting. Going "green" also meant recycling, so they can officially re-use the decorations from the previous year.
So my Christmas wish this year is for the economy to recover faster so that next year we can have better decorations for Christmas. I think the Christmas decorations contribute greatly to the seasons atmosphere and when the atmosphere is right, people will spend. When people spends, economy will improve.
Christmas is for everyone
You don't need to be Christian to celebrate Christmas, nor do I think that Christmas needs to be celebrated the way people have celebrated it traditionally -- Christmas trees, talk of Santa, presents in socks, turkey, and all that.
I think it should be celebrated in whatever way you want to celebrate it. What's most important is that you get together with your friends or family members and have a great time with each other. You can eat turkey with cranberry sauce or chilli crab and it doesn't make a difference (at least I don't think it does).
It's always nice to get together with your loved ones (friend or family) and conclude the year on a happy note. That's why December is my favourite month of the year.
Season of giving
For a christian, the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. But for most Singaporeans (excluding christians), the true meaning of Christmas is island-wide sales!
I anticipate the Christmas season just as much as I anticipate the Great Singapore Sales, maybe even more, cause the jolly Christmas songs played in malls get me in an extreme shopping mood. Whether pre-christmas or post-christmas sales, the adrenaline rush I get looking at discount signs really do hype me up and very often I end up buying more than my poor DBS visa card can handle.
Of course, other than the commercialized and superficial (though awsome) side of Christmas, I do believe that this is the holiday where you can come right out without feeling shy and tell your loved ones how you feel about them.
This year, Christmas for me is about giving thanks, so get your gift shopping done and think deep within yourselves about everything you're thankful for!
The best part of the year
As a Christian, Christmas bears a huge significance to me. It is the season of giving, of bring smiles to the faces of the little ones and the opportunity for families and friends to come together.
Commemorating the birthday of Jesus Christ, Christmas brings hope and joy, blocking out the realities of life. Celebrations have indeed evolved, with many families preferring to spend it outside or youngsters escaping for work, lured by the extra pay. I believe Christmas should be the special day where we put aside everything and reconsider our roots as Christians.
Singapore-style Christmas is unique in that firstly, Singapore does not snow. So its just the same old day, albeit cooler on Christmas. Secondly, we're our own Santa Claus. Realities of life has taught us that the saint does not exist, but it does not stop the flow of gifts. For me, I'd work or save up money to buy my siblings a decent gift (something they've always wanted). Its wonderful to hear their shriek in delight as their Christmas become magical upon seeing a present at the foot of their beds.
Which is what I'm doing now. Hopefully i can earn enough by Christmas Eve. Deja Vu.
I always look forward to Christmas every year. My relatives would ask me what would I want for Christmas and hand them to me on Christmas day itself. I don't believe in Santa Claus, but my relatives do make good Santa Clauses during Christmas! Besides presents, there will be an array of food to tantalize my taste buds. Games and music are also included. This is what makes my Christmas so enjoyable.
The business in Singapore seem to promote too much during this festive session. I'm already seeing Christmas promotions since November. Hey, slow down a little please!
Of course, Christmas isn't just about about presents and buying discounted items. Sometimes, I follow my cousins to church and celebrate the birth of Jesus. I'm not a christian, but I do respect my fellow cousins religion.
For a day which is supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, I always found Christmas to be the opposite of everything Jesus was supposed to stand for.
First, its the presents. Everyone expects one, and then they will compare what they got. So many people feel pressured to spend on more lavish gifts simply to save face. You even end up buying gifts for people you would not give a be caught dead talking to on a normal day.
Businesses, of course, capitalize on this. Every Christmas, I look around and see commercialism at its hardest work rather than the spirit of giving and peace its supposed to represent.
Its a sad thing to see so many people caught up in the flow of things that they forget what Christmas is truly about. And the greatest joke is that if you ever take Christian studies, you will find that there is no evidence whatsoever that Christmas is really Jesus's birthday.
Ho Ho Ho indeed...
Have you been good this year?
It's just another holiday on our calendars, but at the same time, it has something special about it. Maybe it could be that it's something where most people celebrate, despite our different cultural beliefs because Christmas, sadly, is very commercialised, and consumerism applies to almost everyone.
It could also be due to the extensive light decorations along the streets of Orchard Road, and every mall that you enter, will have a Christmas tree with multiple colorful balls and stars and Santa and reindeers, acting as a constant reminder to everyone that it's Christmas!
However, no matter how commercialised Christmas gets, the warm fuzzy feeling never fails to reach me. Normal gatherings and dinners become a little bit spiced up with the exchanging of presents, and the consumption of 'Christmas Food' and of course, the opening of Christmas presents still brings a smile to many people's faces. Christmas is no doubt, my fav holiday of all time.
And what would I want for Christmas? Let it snow, please? :)