Tue, 12 Dec 2023 Feature Article

Getting Christmas Celebration Right: Jesus Is The Reason For The Season, Not Rice, Drinks Or Amusement

Getting Christmas Celebration Right: Jesus Is The Reason For The Season, Not Rice, Drinks Or Amusement

A deep reflection on how this writer in his teenage days, in the village, somewhere in Edo state, would put any of his playmates to test on the day rice was cooked by asking: “Guess what my mother is cooking” will make anyone that is about to read this opinion article come to grip with the gastronomic allure of rice, particularly during Christmas in the countryside. As a commonly expressed brainteaser among frisky children in those days, the respondent was wont to excitedly respond by simply saying “Rice”.

How the brainteaser, which was then a seeming trend among children in the village came about cannot be farfetched as rice was not commonly eaten in most homes; it was unarguably unaffordable by most breadwinners who were majorly peasant farmers. The irony then was that whilst those that dwelt in the urban areas, say Benin-City, Abudu or Agbor seemingly craved for pounded yam or cassava meals, the villagers in this case craved for Rice as a meal.

Also, the brainteaser cannot equally be considered to be preposterous and a solecism at that time as it was usually expressed as a way of showing off in order to impress it on others that one’s family can as well afford the luxury of eating rice meal that was regularly eaten by children from well-to-do families.

Still on the puzzling question, “Guess what my mother is cooking”, any lucky respondent was usually rewarded with an invitation to partake in the august meal; even with two or three spoonful measured into his or her palm which was in most cases voraciously eaten amid the watery stew running from the back of the palm through the arm and cascading at the elbow. Funnily enough, without regard for pleasant eating habit, the cascading watery stew would be “skillfully” licked.

Buttressing the extent to which rice has become synonymous with Christmas, particularly in this part of the world, it is expedient to recall that Robert Mugabe, late former president of Zimbabwe of blessed memory was quoted to have in his lifetime said that Christmas in Africa is just like World Rice Day.

Even if the prowess of speaking in proverbs that he was noted for is no more titillating those of us that are still alive as the ones he left as legacies no longer excite us as they have become monotonous in usage, it cannot be argued that this particular one credited that says “Christmas in Africa is just like World Rice Day” cannot be dismissed as not laugh-provoking, particularly when it is brought to bear In Nigeria where Christmas without rice to not a few people is no Christmas. This is as Christmas has over the years come to share a bond with rice, a cereal grain known to be the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population. In fact, it is germane to admit that when this relationship began is a matter of conjecture.

Suffice it to say that rice is the most commonly pronounced word from the lips of virtually everyone’s lips at the moment in Nigeria, even as some organizations and individuals are ferrying it across the country to beneficiaries and love ones, particularly at this time that some companies are sharing bags of rice to their staff, and richer families giving out rice to poorer ones, cooperative societies arranging for interested members to buy bags of rice at discounted rates, and so on and so forth.

This Christmas, however, the discussion around rice has reached fever pitch as the commodity has gone beyond the reach of the masses, prompting many state governments to intervene.

In a similar vein, it is expedient to opine in this context that as Christmas is fast approaching with less than a month left that not a few people have been carried away by thinking that the festivity, so to say, can only be celebrated by drinking alcohol as if this year’s Christmas will mark the end of the yearly celebration.

In a similar vein, there is no denying the fact that Christmas is a time when some people are more likely to literarily get drowned in diverse pool of alcohol than at other times of the year, and thus drink themselves to stupor. In fact, Christmas has always been one of the most celebrated times of the year for Christians and non-Christians alike, so much h so that 2023 Christmas will not be any different.

In fact, it is not an exaggeration to opine that most people in Christendom do not understand the essence of Christmas, and so they celebrate it beyond the message which it conveys to humanity each year it is celebrated. Given the foregoing, it is expedient to opine that the message of Christmas is that where there is hope, love, light and life, the plan and purpose of God will reach.

Again, somewhat wrong celebration of the yuletide season makes not a few people miss the reason why Christmas is so important, particularly in Christendom. For the sake of clarifying the foregoing view, it is expedient to say that Christmas is important to many Christians because it reminds them that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth for all people, and that His coming, through the visits of the wise men and the shepherds teaches the need to share in love with others, and to a large extent, the season teaches that Mary and Joseph both had a strong faith in God, despite the difficulties they faced.

In fact, at this juncture, particularly as we are fast getting to the day Christmas is celebrated, it is pragmatic everyone take a deep reflection on why the increase in the tempo of feeding, particular on rice, drinking, particularly alcoholic drinks, and catching fun like “Tomorrow Nor Dey” as the man on the street would say in pidgin. As Christians, we are the only ones who know the real meaning of Christmas and why it is a time of celebration and what that celebration means to all who will believe. If there were no Jesus, there would be no Christmas. As you see the many slogans being pasted on virtually every available space, they are explanatory enough for anyone to understand the real meaning of Christmas and understand that Jesus is the reason for the season. Given the messages imprinted on some of the posters that go thus.... "Peace on earth, good will to men"... "Joy to the world... "Hark, the herald Angels sing"... "'round young virgin, mother and Child", one would agree that, truly, Jesus is the reason for the season, and therefore it will not be a misnomer in this context to assert in finality that Jesus Is the reason for the Season, and that it is neither rice, drinks nor amusement that are the reasons for the anticipated celebration.