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It's christmas

Monday, December 20, 2010
By Verus Ferreira

Bringing in christmas with cards

Christmas is a day I devote specially to my family. I make sure I do not work and make it a point to go to Church and spend the day with my family. It is a beautiful feeling being home during Christmas and the whole routine of meeting cousins and having loads of sweets. Over the years, my siblings have been out of the country, so I love the whole family reunion and wish I was back in school, though I used to wait desperately for Christmas vacations. I love the excitement before Christmas and I do not get to see it so much nowadays as everyone is so lost within themselves that they do not celebrate it like they have to. It is relevant to me and will always be, so long as you know what is really important about the festival - love and peace. It is a beautiful season indeed.

With almost every Christian household blaring Christmas carols, the swinging rock pieces, the country favorites, or the usual traditional fare performed by well known singers from overseas, here is a trip down memory lane of street caroling and the best places to watch the last few Christmas carol performances for the season.

 A Western tradition that has come down the years has spread all around with Catholic and even non Catholic youngsters walking down the streets during Christmas time and singing Christmas carols.

Places in Bandra, Orlem, Borivli and a few other pockets in Mumbai are where you may find youngsters post 8 pm, heading for carol singing. Bandra resident Vernon Alvares, a regular at carol singing since his childhood days, says, “Carol singing was a major part of our countdown to Christmas and the New Year. We would begin at around 8 pm and wind our way down the road stopping at cottages or buildings .We practiced a week before we went out, as everyone knew most of the Christmas carols. So with just a box guitar and a tambourine with us, we’d sing along. ‘Jingle bells’ was one of the favorite carols as it would get all the kids peeping out of the window looking for Santa. After singing a few carols one of us would climb up the building with a tin box and ask for contributions.”

These, incidentally, are used for poor people in the parish.“We used to have a Christmas eve party at times, but that was more from the contributions from the singers, than that collected from the box. The money from the box collection was directed to old age homes and the poor,” chips in Rosemary Pires, who used to go carol singing in her parish at Santacruz. 

Carols were not only sung in and around parishes, but also in slums adjoining the parish. An ex -member of the 1980s youth movement of Mt.Carmel Church, Venant Alexio recalled that the young would visit the slum pockets carrying candles and lanterns with them and sing carols and spread the message of Christ and bring joy to those less fortunate. They would also visit the Home for the Aged and Shanti Avedna ashram and sing carols. When time permitted, members of the parish also gathered at Hill Road at the Hilton departmental store where Santa Claus would make his annual visit and mingle with the kids while the young ones sang out Christmas carols.

The youth did this for the fun of it, to spread cheer and love to all, expecting nothing in return. With time the trend has still not changed. Carol singing, which was very popular in the days of snail post has still managed to continue even in a day when music is at your fingertips. Fr. Warner of Mt.Carmel Church says, “Recently a few of our parishioners went out carol singing and we bumped into the Cardinal who was visiting someone in the parish. He was happy to see us out singing carols. There is no way that this age old tradition can pass by. Carol singing is a part of the celebration of Christmas that brings in the Christmas spirit in the neighborhood.”

Rev Dr. Cecil Clements, Pastor, The Church at Powai said, “We want one and all to experience a wholesome Christmas celebration with their families, and through music and other activities that cater to every age group, we hope to share the real joyous meaning of Christmas.”

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