Though the date of December 25th isn't necessarily the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ, as some church leader many centuries ago declared the day to be Christ-mass, a celebration. It actually was related to the northern summer solstice and the Sun. However through the centuries it has become the Christians special day. So, how do we celebrate it? Worship, carols, quietness, family feasts, story-telling, gifts particularly for the children. It's not a day for shopping. Okay, I know that times are hard and money is ever important, but in Fiji Christmas does have significance for most of the population. It is disappointing to read that there is confusion over whether shops can or cannot open.
From one of the Fiji media outlets I read that municipal administrators can be flexible in allowing the day to be a trading day, though Suva City Council say the shopkeepers will need a special permit. Monday and Tuesday are also holidays. Okay, there are some people who do have to work - in hospitals, taxi-drivers, hotels where there are tourists, but generally it still ought to be 'shop-free'.
From a Fiji Times story comes the view of a highly respected leader, Fei Tevi.
Tevi: Respect Christmas day
Friday, December 24, 2010
THERE has been a call for businesses to respect the setting aside of the 25th December as the day Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) general secretary Fe'iloakitau Tevi said businesses should not discriminate against workers who do not turn up to work on Christmas Day, by not paying them. He called on the line ministry to ensure the rights of believers in the workplace were protected.
"There should be a respect for religious beliefs and ordinances from employers that should not impinge on the rights of believers of any faith who may want to attend religious services and spend a religious day of celebrations with their families," he said.
"This is one day in the year that is so special in the Christian calendar, and it should not be overwhelmed and dictated by the blind pursuit for profit of businesses and the private sector."
One of my favourite Christmas theme songs is called 'The Turning Point of Time' written by an Australian composer. It starts off with these words:
The stillness of anticipation
cradles tiny Bethlehem;
silent now in preparation
for the miracle of birth.
all creation, hushed, expectant,
waits a baby's cry;
born in all simplicity
at the turning point of time.
And one of my favourite Fijian carols is 'Matanisiga'
Of course the story of Christmas isn't complete. There's the whole life of Jesus when he lived on earth, the gentle man of God whose intuition of human frailty and need for healing has changed the world for ever.