Christmas 2020 is one experience that will be distinctively embossed in the memory of many in predominantly Christian Philippines – with the coronavirus pandemic still exhaling its ferocity on the 110 million population from Tawi-Tawi to Batanes.
Likely indeed that we would have to celebrate this admittedly joyous season in its essence and simplicity, with many preoccupied with the guidelines implemented by the authorities, through the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases.
This means, for our own safety and the safety of others, we must strictly follow the guidelines, like physical or social distancing, frequent washing of the hands with water and alcohol, wearing face masks and face shields, and avoiding crowds where getting infected can be definitely faster.
Christmas caroling is prohibited. We fully endorse the ban for everybody’s safety.
The forbiddance despite, that does not stop us from spreading more hope, peace, joy, love and compassion during the season, which goes well into January, or even February.
After all, what is paramount is the safety, the health of everyone.
But definitely, as some had said, which has muscles of persuasive good thought, we should follow the health protocols. In other words, being in this sacrifice together we must properly stay apart.
Filipinos, given their rich cultural and religious tradition, are trying to locate different sorts of ways this season – no thanks to the pandemic – to connect, celebrate and reflect.
We understand there will be many dinners over Zoom, or whatever social media platforms available, but also many small gatherings outdoors, in the garden and on porches beneath solar-powered lamps.
We share the hope of those concerned with the health of everyone that they are taking the dangers of the health emergency pretty much seriously – the sacrifices anyway for the good health of everyone in our society.
A couple of years and a century back, the second wave of the 1918 flu was more powerful than the first which spiked in the fall and winter.
In the United States alone, more than 675,000 Americans died during that public health crisis, more than a quarter of those deaths just in October.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health log showed this week while nearly 430,000 have recovered from infections, more than 9,000 have died since the enhanced community quarantine in mid-March and more than 463,000 are still suffering from infections.
We appreciate the fact that the Christmas celebration is a major part of the culture of Christian Filipinos.
Many, children including, would understandably be unnerved with many prevented from doing what for decades they had been doing in previous Christmas zones, now just a castle in the air, like caroling, attending the traditional Midnight Masses for nine nights and eventually the New Year’s
But the commemoration of Christmas this season should not be dampened by the implementation of protocols, which should in fact be observed by everyone for everybody’s health and safety.
As one editorial writer said in his post: “Christmas this season should not, despite the pandemic, prevent the majority from spreading hope, peace, joy and love – where the essence and simplicity of the milestone should not be lost on them, reminded yet again that the Lord was born in a manger with his mother and father.
“May the majority find in their hearts a room for the Lord and Redeemer, and may their lives reflect the presence of the Son of God, with each Christian home radiating a sense of peace, enormous faith, hope, compassion and love.”
Let’s just gather beneath the simple Christmas lanterns and muse over the significance of the birth of Jesus. Or stay round the Christmas tree, meditate with family members on the essence of the birth of the Redeemer.
An elderly, looking at Christmases past and remembering the Christmas trees of old, said it well, thusly: “As a young boy in grade school in the country I wondered why Christmas then – and later in college when I was already in the city – always had a Christmas tree. And why indeed it was there?
“Much later, beyond my 24 units of theology, I learned that the green tree was an ancient symbol of life. Romans, according to the history behind the evergreens, decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the new year.
“But it was not until the Renaissance when there were clear records of trees being used as a symbol of Christmas, with legend crediting the Protestant reformer Martin Luther with inventing the Christmas tree, although this has little historical basis.
“It was in the early 19th century however when German and Dutch immigrants brought their traditions of trees and presents to the new world. There were images of happy middle-class families exchanging gifts around a tree which became, according to Bible scholars Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait, “a powerful one for American authors and civic leaders who wished to replace rowdier and more alcohol-fueled Christmas traditions.”
“While many, in the inhabited continents, have been lost in the essence of Christmas because of Christmas trees, it would do well to remember that Christmas is not just an anniversary for trees and gift-giving.
“These are, in the words of some theologians, the ‘ultimate symbols’ of the one person who gave himself to unite heaven and earth and, as the Taits stress, ‘who brings all barren things to flower.’”
A blessed Christmas season to our readers! (AI/MTVN)