Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

As a Roman Catholic family, we always went to mid-night mass. On the Sunday before Christmas, we had our confessions heard so we could receive our Holy Communion on Christmas Eve. Even during the service, the queues to the confessional stalls were very long. If you were too late, you miss out and you were burden with sin.

My dad, having spent a few Christmases in London started our own tradition. We attend mid-night mass, and it would be past mid night when we got home. Mother would make us hot milo and gave us cookies. We had our artificial tree and lights and we all decorated the tree. The first chain of Christams lights didn't twinkle, I remember my brother Charles at the switch, turning the lights on and off, until Father stopped him. He said, the lights will blow if Charles persisted. Subsequently, Father always bought fairy lights.

Father would tell us in London, when he was in the college, the students would sing," Why are we waiting?" to the tune of Oh Come Oh ye Fauthful, while they were waiting for their Christmas dinner.

Most Christians in Malaysia celebrate Christmas either going to Christmas Eve Church services or Christmas Day Services. For some churches, the few evenings before Christmas, groups of members would go carolling at church members homes or senior citizen's home. They also read a few Bible verses. Some hosts were serve them an elaborate spread. Others will sing at shopping malls or hotel lobbies.

Malaysia is a multi racial and multi religious country. The people have embraced one fairly unique Malaysian custom: The Open House concept. Be it Christmas, Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Malaysians visit one another to greet the other a Merry/Blessed Christmas, Likewise, Selamat Hari Raya or Happy Chinese New Year. The host family will serve the visitors specially baked cookies. This exchange of fellowship is what the Bible teaches us to love one another regardless of race or creek.

The candy cane is used during Christmas because of its shape. With the curve end up, the candy cane looks like a shepherd’s staff. It represents that Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd looking after us, his lamb. Also the first people who witness the birth of Jesus were shepherds. Turn the candy cane the other way, looks like “J” for Jesus. The flavor of peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made.

God bless,

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