Do Not Read This: Diego Cagahastian from Opinyon
Do Not Read This

Christmas is not that popular

Jan 3, 2022, 2:00 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian

Columnist

IT IS interesting to have a bird's eye view of the planet as mankind observes one of its important celebrations, Christmas, at a time when nations are all grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be fair, only half of humanity are involved in this festive event, with many countries led by populous China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, North Korea, Morocco, Tunisia, Mongolia, etc. not recognizing the holiday.

The Philippines had a subdued observance, mostly religious, as revelry and parties are still frowned upon because of the pandemic.

Also, the whole nation is still reeling from the devastating onslaught of super typhoon Odette (Rai) that hit the Visayas and parts of Mindanao last Dec. 16-17.

Tons of relief goods, drinking water, generators, medicines, and cash are being distributed to the victims, whose houses, schools, roads and bridges were leveled by the strong cyclone.

While donations from foreign countries and organizations are pouring in, distribution has become a problem because of landslides, cut roads and lack of communication networks.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated the traditional Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

In his homily, the 85-year-old Argentinian pontiff stressed that "Jesus asks us to rediscover and value the little things in life." He called on the faithful for more solidarity with those living in poverty.

A couple of days before that, in his talk with the Roman Curia, the pope perorated on the need to be humble, calling what they do a service to the people, and being servants the clergy should show humility.

When we reckon humanity, we may refer to the countries with the biggest populations -- China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

In China, there is an ongoing official scorn on Christmas, calling the event a "festival of shame" and "western spiritual opium" and so Christmas is officially non-existent.

With President Xi Jinping strongly at the helm, China has downplayed Western culture and beliefs, setting the stage for many citizens' denunciation of Christmas.

The Communist Party of China has discouraged party members, government and educational institutions from taking part in Yuletide observance, and social media platforms are replete with calls to ban Christmas and celebrate instead Chairman Mao's birthday on Dec. 26.

Despite this, millions of Christians in China celebrate the birth of Christ which has taken on a commercial rather than religious character, much like in Japan.

In New York, holiday travel among Americans was hit hard by the highly infectious Omicron variant, with airlines canceling 2,300 flights due to lack of pilots, flight attendants and other airline staff who were either sick or in quarantine because of the virus.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden tracked Santa Claus' journey around the world with the help of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which reported it was OK.

Then Biden spoke via video call with a number of American families to further spread the Christmas spirit, wishing them happy holidays.

This was met with warm response by some, but a father-party pooper greeted him back, "Merry Christmas. Let's go Brandon!" which is a disparaging insult to the sitting president, a sort of euphemism used by Trump fans.

Well, even Christmas is not free from the political divide.


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