Archive

February 2019

Browsing

If you happen to be a part of any Choir, Christmas Carols would then appeal you in a different level altogether. Christmas carols have a power to help one forget all negative aspects of his life and fills his heart with new hope cheer and happiness.

Listening to or singing Christmas carols in a choir instill a certain degree of goodness and energy anyway; and if you happen to work with or simply witness children’s choir, Christmas celebration is then spread with a certain charm all over!

Last Christmas Eve; choir carols music in Santa Barbara was a popular choice among all of us and so it was decided that we would be there for Christmas. All siblings put together made a group of nine. It was definitely a challenge for us to be able to master the most popular carols in a month’s time and perform in the most awaited venue of the year.

It was initially a little difficult for all of us to manage time everyday and come over for the rehearsals at nine in the evening. But thanks to the Christmas Sheet Music for choir and piano; we all had the exact notations, chords, scale, bridges and for certain songs – ideas for doing harmony as well.

A search through the internet helped us immensely for two reasons. We found the lyrics of all the numbers on just a click. Secondly, we came across the different versions of each song. I truly had no clue that a simple Christmas carol of just two or three versus could be or was actually sung in so very many ways!!

We began well ahead in time and I have to agree that after a week, we couldn’t wait the whole day to come together and sing our favourite carols.

Since we were nine of us, it was decided that we would practice nine numbers, one a favourite of each of us. So all of us, surfed through our music libraries and racks, checked with old carol books and selected one song each to add on to the final list of carols.

We requested Father Bernard to be our pianist and he happily agreed. It was equally nostalgic for him as we would practice together in our childhood days for the mass on Sundays. He too seemed to re-live good old days!

Finally after rehearsing for a whole month; on Christmas Eve we performed all together. Check out our choir list that we’d prepared:

  • Come all ye faithful
  • We thank Thee
  • I’ll fly away
  • Across the bridge
  • The night watch
  • Silent night
  • Jingle bells
  • By the rivers of Babylon
  • Oh gentle shepherd

We all hope this Christmas is equally eventful!

Christmas Carols Little Donkey was our skit last year to be performed on Christmas Eve. We were a group of twelve kids and for all of us it was a big honour to be performing with a donkey!

We initially were quite confused as to how we would be communicating with our team mate. But then Ms. June; our play teacher told us that this little donkey was specially sent by Santa for us and he could speak and understand English. We were glorified and couldn’t thank Santa enough who was so nice to send us such a cute and adorable little donkey.

We were divided into two groups. Group A would sing and recite the poem; and Group B would enact the verses alongside. We all were overjoyed to know that both groups would have their own donkey. Ms. June also promised that if we would be good and performed well, she would take us to Galley’s fair on New Year’s Eve and would treat us with a ride on a real super donkey!!

We all received a separate copy of the poem and were told to memorize the verses fluently in a week’s time. I was in group A and we were to recite the poem.

My mother helped me quite a lot in this endeavor and I mastered the poem in the next five days…you don’t believe me? Okay, I’ll recite for you. Here it goes:

Little Donkey – A Christmas Poem,
By: Eric Boswell

Little donkey, little donkey,
On the dusty road.
Got to keep on plodding onwards,
With your precious load.

Been a long time, little donkey,
Through the winter’s night.
Don’t give up now, little donkey,
Bethlehem’s in sight

Ring out those bells tonight
Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
Follow that star tonight,
Bethlehem, Bethlehem.

Little donkey, little donkey,
Had a heavy day.
Little donkey, carry Mary safely on her way.

Little donkey, little donkey,
On the dusty road.
There are wise men waiting for a
Sign to bring them here.

Do not falter, little donkey,
There’s a star ahead.
It will guide you, little donkey,
To a cattle shed.
Yes I know you are surprised and happy…you could clap a little louder!

Ms. June was also very happy and the next weekend when each of us in the group was supposed to recite the poem, I was appreciated and ‘keep up the good work’, was my compliment for the day. I came back home, threw my arms around mommy; kissed her and gave her the same compliment. After all, she was the one who had helped me learn the verse so well.

In the meanwhile group B kept practicing their act and they too were ready for the show.

The next week group A and B were supposed to practice together. Yes you got it right…we were to sing and enact the whole skit together. It was a big day and so I requested mommy to make me two glasses of chocolate milk shake that morning. It just helped me gain energy for the day!

The practice session was hence the best goal and we were all set for our final stage show.

On Christmas Eve mommy and papa gifted me a book of popular Christmas carols. My happiness knew no bounds and I couldn’t wait to show my team mates and Ms. June my grand gift.

After the show that evening Ms. June congratulated us and told us that the show was one of the best she had ever seen. We knew that her promise awaited our visit to Galley’s fair. Also we were gifted with our own personal donkey! I then showed all of them my gift and everyone seemed to beam with happiness.

Thus Christmas last year was great grand and wonderful. I know it will be equally merry this year as well…wish u all merry Christmas and do have a real good time!!

Christmas songs are as diverse and assorted as one can think of. There is an incredible variety of Christmas carol songs that have been created throughout the years. Those who have grown up in snowy regions may recall the sledge rides and caroling around trees.

The arrival of Christmas is reminded by a blend of many factors. For some it is about more specific things, like the change in season, or decorations inside malls and buildings with wreaths, Christmas lights, and red-n-white canes. Mixing the visual laments with audible ones reminds you of beautiful Christmas memories. With Christmas carols sung by pop singers, the releasing of Christmas albums and with the traditional Christmas songs played in the radio or on your favorite video channel, you are sure to experience the initiation of holiday season.

Bing Crosby and sleigh bells are some of the popular carols heard during the white Christmas.

Christmas from early seventies, eighties and nineties through Vietnam, Gulf War, Granada and current wars reflects the true meaning imparted by these Christmas Songs. And no one can forget those wonderful Bing Crosby and Perry Como Christmas specials that are filled with striking Christmas songs.

Many of us would fondly recall an earful of kids songs, ranted by The Chipmunks.“All I Want for Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus are some other favorite Christmas songs of kids”

Like many other things, Christmas songs still continue to evolve. From the stirring classics like “O Holy Night” and “Little Drummer Boy,” Christmas songs have gone into challenging, bonding, penetrating and spiritually inspiring realms. Just the sounds can inundate many wonderful memories of this special day.

Jingle Bells, The First Noel, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, The Christmas Song and Joy to the World remains amongst the most favorite Christmas songs even today. You may have grown up listening to these old Christmas compilation or you may have sung these choirs yourself, but you cannot ignore the fuzzy feeling that you get when you hear Christmas songs even as you get older. These beautiful Christmas songs communicate joy, peace and love that bring tenderness to everyone’s hearts during the holiday season. They connect friends and family together during moments of singing and helps in recalling some old memories. And most importantly, they remind us about the arrival of new season and the gift-giving.

The resonating sound of keyboard brings our sprits together during the season. And while we all may not be blessed with superior vocals, but we all are blessed with the beautiful gifts of friends and family. So whether or not you plan a small or large intimate holiday party, playing these celebrated Christmas songs will certainly bring back a lot of cherished memories to share with your near and dear ones.

People all across the world love celebrating Christmas but only few of them know the idea behind celebrating Christmas. Very few people know that the idea of celebrating Christmas dates back to the 4th Century. The festival was started by the Catholic Church because the rival pagan religion was threatening the existence of Christianity. At that time there were different religions who were trying to survive and celebrating a special day was the best way of grabbing the attention of the people.

Have you ever thought why 25th of December was kept as the date of Christ’s birth. The only reason why Christ’s birthday was celebrated on the 25th of December is that the Catholics wanted to compete with the Romans. The Romans used to celebrate the birth of their sun god ‘Mithras’ in order to encounter them the church leaders decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time of the year. The date 25th December was as it collided head on with the rival Pagan religion.

But once Pagans were subsided Christianity spread like wild fire. Soon after people all across the world were seen celebrating 25th December as the birth date of Jesus Christ. But nowadays the Christmas celebrations are quite varied but there is a reason behind each tradition. If you want to understand the secrets behind some major Christmas traditions then you must read the following pointers:

  • Santa Claus is one of the major characters related to Christmas and you will be surprised to know that Santa Claus originated in Turkey. His actual name was St Nicholas who was very pious and devoted his entire life to Christianity and helping the poor.
  • Christmas tree holds a lot of importance in the festival as well. But you will be amazed to know that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. It is also believed that Martin Luther was the first person to light a Christmas tree. But the most amazing thing is that the Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19 century AD.
  • The hard candies is one of the another very famous Christmas item. It is believed that hard candies have been around for several hundreds of years but the truth is that these were introduced in the early 1900’s. These were initially provided to the children in order to keep them quiet during church services.

Each and every Christmas celebration item has a story behind it which is quite interesting but only very few people know about it.

Christmas in South America is vivid and colourful with splendid celebrations that differ from countries to countries. In Bolivia, Christmas is the season of harvest festival, whereas in some other countries unique rituals make Christmas a season of joy and merriment.

To Bolivians, Christmas is a feast of adoration of the Goddess Mother Earth. It is the season in which the people give the account of the past years work and calculate the amount of work to be done for the next year. Christmas in South America varies from the Christmas celebrations of the world in Brazil in certain aspects. The concept of Santa Claus is little heard of in Brazil. In some regions, a concept of Christmas father is heard, but he is called Papa Noel. In Brazil, despite of making Christmas trees, the children used to make Christmas cribs. The Christmas celebrations of Brazilians are almost similar to those of USA and UK. Christmas meal is common in all houses including the rich and the poor.

In Bolivia, the Christmas celebrations centre on the church and the family with many days long prayers and rituals. As Chile features a warm climate, the chimneys are usually short and it is believed that the Christmas Papa (known in Chile by the name Viejito Pascuero) climbs these chimneys to place gifts for the children. The children also make small clay figures to place under the Christmas trees on the Christmas eve.

The children of Ecuador celebrate Christmas in a very different way, by writing letters to infant Jesus. This is not only a unique tradition in the celebrations of Christmas in South America, but also in world, such a custom is little known. Besides, the children place a single shoe on the window sills, so that when Jesus makes an anonymous visit at homes, he can put a toy there as a gift. Noisy toys are a part of the Christmas celebrations in Ecuador.

Christmas in South America has certain common features in all countries. The display of presepio (the Christmas crib) is the most prominent of them all. Usually, in some houses a whole room is designed with the presepio display often featuring sceneries and surroundings of the place where Christ was born.

In Argentina, people go to mass in the church and come back for the Christmas dinner. Dance of the senior members of the family takes place at homes after the dinner, while the youth go outside for watching the fireworks displays. The people of Argentina celebrate Christmas of December 24 and their celebrations are marked with dinners with several dishes like pork, turkey, etc.

In Venezuela the celebrations last from December 16 to January 16. Carol services and firecrackers are a part of the celebrations. A legend in connection with the Ethiopian King Balthazar is also heard among the Christmas traditions in Venezuela.

Christmas in Venezuela is celebrated with a number of religious and traditional customs. Since a majority here follows Roman Catholicism, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus is an important part of the festivities. Christmas is the main holiday during which Venezuelan families get together and celebrate.

The religious celebrations commence more than a week before on 16th of December with masses every morning through to December 24th, when the midnight service (Misa de Gallo) is held. In the capital city of Caracas, it is customary to roller-skate to this service and many neighborhoods close the streets to cars until 8 in the morning

The main celebration begins on Christmas Eve. Families and friends come together to enjoy the traditional holiday meal comprising ‘hallacas’, long breads filled with cooked ham and raisins known as ‘pan de jamón’ and ‘dulce de lechoza’, a dessert made of green papaya and brown sugar, cooked bit by bit for hours and served cold.

Christmas trees are put up and adorned in most homes. The most indisputable Venezuelan convention, however, is the displaying of a nacimiento (Nativity scene). The pesebre is a more refined version of nacimiento, sometimes becoming a real piece of art by its own right. Representing an entire region with mountains, hills, plains and valley, it has a replica of the manger at Bethlehem in the centre.

Children wake up to find their gifts around the Nacimiento or the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. According to the Venezuelan tradition, it is the Child Jesus who brings gifts to the Venezuelan children instead of Santa Claus.

Music is an important part of the celebrations and traditional songs called aguinaldos are played at this time. In the olden days, the aguinaldos singers (called aguinalderos)   would go home to home singing songs and playing traditional instruments.

Some fun facts about Venezuela to know the country better:

  • Venezuela nurtures one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Angel Falls.
  • There are only two seasons in Eastern Venezuela: hot and dry, and hot and wet.
  • Hot showers are difficult to find in Venezuela.
  • The official name of Venezuela is ‘Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’. Venezuela got independence from Spain in 1811 and became an independent republic in 1821.  The main languages spoken here include Spanish and its indigenous dialects.
  • Venezuela is one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America. It is also one of the oldest democracies in South America.
  • This country is immensely rich in biodiversity. Canaima National Park is one of the largest national parks in the world and Lake Maracaibo is regarded as the largest lake in South America. The country’s highest point is at Pico Bolivar (5000 m.).
  • Venezuela was first found by Christopher Columbus.
  • Venezuela literally means ‘Little Venice’. The country was so named by its explorers because of its resemblance to Venice.
  • Slavery was abolished here in 1854.
  • Venezuela was one of the founding members of OPEC. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest natural gas reserves.
  • The petroleum industry accounts for half of the revenue of the Venezuelan government.

There is a lot more about this country that you’d like to know as you go visit this beautiful Latin American country inhabited by beautiful people (literally!).

“Chúc M?ng Giáng Sinh” (“Merry Christmas” in Vietnamese language)

The way that the Vietnamese people celebrate Christmas is a quotable example of secularism. Though the main religion here is Buddhism and Christians form only a minority, Vietnam celebrates Christmas as one of the four important festivals in the country, the other three being, birthday of Buddha the mid-autumn festival and the New Year.

Christmas in Vietnam is celebrated with vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment. It is the birthday of Jesus Christ, who is known in Vietnamese language by the name ‘Kito’. Coming to the history of Christmas traditions in Vietnam, the Catholics, which form a minority of the country, had celebrated Christmas in the most peaceful way. When the communist power came into existence in 1975, the Christmas celebrations became private affairs. But, from 1980s, as a result of the country embraced western ideas, Christmas regained its status as one of the four major festivals in the country.

In present times, Christmas in Vietnam is being celebrated by not only the Christians, but also the people belonging to other religions as participate in it with liveliness and enthusiasm. The major portion of the celebrations takes place at Ho Chi Minh City, where people of all religions gather and celebrate in the way how the Europeans celebrate it. The youth gather at the cities and the vehicles are prevented from entering into the city circle.

But, as far as Christians in Vietnam are concerned, the most important part of the Christmas celebrations takes place at a city in North Vietnam, known as Phat Diem, which is considered the spiritual centre of seven million catholics. Catholics gather here on the Christmas night with a cheerful spirit and the children present a drama featuring the holy birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas in Vietnam is of much important for devout Catholics in the country. They attend midnight masses in the church and go back to their homes for a Christmas supper, which is the most important meal of Christians in the country. The dinner may consist of different items. But the traditional item for common people is chicken soup, whereas the rich families may have turkey and Christmas pudding.

The concept of Santa Claus is well prevalent in the tradition of Christmas in Vietnam. The children believe that the Christmas father would come on Christmas night to give them gifts. So, as in the Western way, they put one shoe on the windowsill to watch the miracle in the morning that the shoes are filled with presents.

The churches and cathedrals in Vietnam create soul-stirring nativity scenes and cribs during Christmas. The cheerful and joyous nature of Vietnamese people makes them to participate in the celebration without any religious or community-wise distinctions.

Christmas in Spain is more animated and inspiring than any other countries since there many legends in association with the birth of Jesus Christ, those are perhaps unheard of in the other parts of the world. One such legend says that a cow at the time of the Nativity breathed on the infant Jesus to provide him warmth and thus cows are much revered in the country. A tradition in Spain says that the three wise men from the east visited Jesus Christ on January 16 and thus on this day the children expects the threesome to visit them with gifts.

Usually every house in Spain has a manger, which will be displayed during the Christmas with decorations and the figures memorising the characters present during the holy birth. The elders used to gather around the manger a week prior to the Christmas and sing accompanied by the instruments played by the children of the house.

Christmas in Spain is celebrated in a highly religious mood despite of a huge commercial ambiance. The Christmas stars are usually lit in every place by this time. By the end of the second week, Christmas trees made in every home in addition to the artificial and delicate Nativity scene designed in the background of villages and landscapes creating an ambiance of the surroundings of the holy birth. These nativity scenes are known in the Spanish language by the name Belenes.

Christmas in Spain starts on December 8, which is the day of the Immaculate Conception held in reverence of the Virgin Mary, who is the patron saint of Spain. This feast is observed every year in front of the great Gothic Cathedral in Seville. A ritualistic dance ceremony called the ‘dance of six’, (los Seises in Spanish) is conducted as part of this feast.

The Christmas Eve is known by the name Nochebuena, which means ‘the good night’ in the Spanish language. On 6th January, which is the feast of Epiphany, children in Spain receive gift as in the same European traditions. A curious belief is that the three wise men every year travels through the rustic ways of Spain distributing gifts and re-enacting the centuries old incident. The children used to put single shoes on the windowsills, so that while passing the house, any of the wise men can put a gift within the shoes for the children. In return, the children used to fill in with the shoes with straw, carrots and barley for the horses of the wise men. Among the threesome, the Ethiopian king Balthazar is most revered in the country and the children usually expect gifts from him.

After one month long celebrations in connection with Christmas in Spain, spanning from December 8 to January 6, the offices and schools are open on January 7. On this day, the children go to school and the elders to work place in waiting of yet another Christmas next time.

Christmas in Yugoslavia depends much on the age old traditions and customs. As the harbingers of Christmas, the second Sunday prior to the Christmas is celebrated as the Mother’s day, on which, the children play affectionate pranks on their mothers and extend them Mother’s Day wishes. The children tie mother’s feet to a chair and sing,

“Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day,                           What will you pay to get away!

The children free the mother only when she gives them presents. The next coming Sunday is the Father’s Day and the same pranks are repeated on their fathers by the children on this day.

A concept of Christmas log is popular in association with Christmas in Yugoslavia. Someone watches the Christmas log burning with full vigil the whole night as they believe that if the log burns out due to the carelessness, it would bring bad luck to the whole next year.

The Christmas cake in Yugoslavia is known by the name Chestnitsa. A gold or silver coin is hid secretly while preparing it and the one who gets it can expect a lot of good luck for the coming year. Another Christmas tradition in Yugoslavia is in connection with the Christmas pig. The roast pig has to be carved in a unique traditional way so that it is difficult to explain. The roast pig is an essential item of the Christmas dinner.

Every house in Yugoslavia must possess a Christmas crib and they used to decorate it in the Christmas season with moss collected from the forest. The Christmas carol is often sung accompanied by the music box, which surely included in the household possessions.

The tradition of Christmas tree signifying Jesus Christ’s birth came into the customs of Christmas in Yugoslavia only in the 18th century. Before that, there was a tradition of fresh green shoot. By December 22 (the Winter Solstice), a fresh green shoot is brought inside the home, which signifies the birth of a new life apart from health, happiness and living strength.

Another custom is carried out by the shepherd and carol singers, who bring the Birch twigs to the houses. As the next, they would sing verses to bring health and wealth to everyone. The greetings also include a rich harvest and prosperous financial state for the coming year. The Yugoslavs also believe that the evergreen tree branches have the power to prevent any bad omens, which are brought by the evil spirits and demons.

Many of the traditions in association with Christmas in Yugoslavia had been actually influenced by Pagan traditions, rather than Christianity. Because of that, there are so many seemingly superstitious traditions existing in connection with the celebrations of Christmas in Yugoslavia.

The Origin of Christmas- Get to know the origins of Christmas to have a clear idea of Christmas

Christmas is one of the well known festivals that are celebrated all over the world. It is celebrated to mark and commemorate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. Also known as X Mass, it is one of the greatest events for the people of the Christian community and is celebrated all over the world. In addition to the Christians, people of all communities also take part in the celebrations. Christmas is held every year on the 25th of December. To have a better idea, let us know the origin of Christmas.

Origin of Christmas day

Christmas is marked with great fun and exuberance the world over. The event marks the start of the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. The whole event lasts for a period of twelve days. The celebratory days begin from December 25 and lasts till Jan 5 or 6. If we have an idea of the origin of the event, we can see that on the 25th of December, Jesus was born and so it is a special day. As such, wide spread celebrations takes place on this day. As the clock strikes the mid night hour, people come out to the streets and pay their respects to Lord Jesus. The bells of churches ring and homage and prayers are offered.

The origin of Christmas is based on the biblical details that are inscribed in the Gospel of Matthew, and the Gospel of Luke. Christmas and the figure of Santa Claus are integral to each other. Santa is known as the Father of Christmas. His character was first recorded in the 15th century and is related to merry making spirit. The giving and sharing of gifts remind us of the three magi’s gifts to Jesus.

Christmas Day was first celebrated in a proper way in the 4th century during the reign of Emperor Constantine. Since that period, the festival is being celebrated with great fanfare almost all over the world. Based on popular belief, the name “Christmas” was first taken from the Mass of Christ. One of the main ingredients of the event is the mass which thanks Jesus who gave his life for the human race.

Origin of the Christmas celebrations

Prayer services are an important part of Christmas Day which dates back to centuries. The celebrations start from the previous day, also referred to Christmas Eve and go on till the next day. After the prayers are over, people accept blessing from the priests and exchange greetings and wishes.

Gifts and decorations also form a major part of the Christmas celebrations. Greetings and wishes are exchanged by friends and family members. In almost all Christian houses, children and young people make Christmas trees by decorating with lights, nativity scenes, holly leaves, red stocking and other things. Bells are erected on the doors and windows and chocolates are distributed among everybody.