December 25th, 2020
By Rehan Piracha
The COVID pandemic has restricted but not dampened the spirit of close to 3.5 million Christians celebrating Christmas day in Pakistan.
For any Christian household, the Christmas celebrations begin with the start of December, says Sonia Ijaz as she prepares special dishes in the kitchen before leaving for a church in Lahore to attend the special service on Christmas day. Alishah, her teenaged son, has just finished decorating the Christmas tree with bright and colourful lights. The decoration of the Christmas tree is a tradition followed by Christian families on occasion of Christmas.
“We start by cleaning the house, followed by decoration of the Christmas tree, and lighting of candles inside the house,” she tells Voicepk.net. Relatives and pastors visit their homes throughout the month, adding that cakes, sweet dishes and dry fruits are part of the delicacies served to the guests. The family members offer special prayers and sing hymns to celebrate Christmas during the month. Alishah says he has been decorating the tree with colourful bulbs as well putting lights all over the living room.
Sara, Alishah’s younger sister, is also excited for Christmas day as she will be performing in a tableau in the Church on Christmas day. Sara, who has been practicing her role of King Herod for about a month, says very happy to get an extra dress this Christmas to perform in the tableau. The children are performing in the nativity play that tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Sara says the play helps bring the message of Jesus Christ to the audience.
Speaking about the significance of Christmas day, Pastor Nadeem Sadiq explains that the word Christmas is composed of Christ and Mass meaning worship of Christ, adding that the occasion marks the physical manifestation of Christ in the world. He says the Christmas celebrations begin in December and each week has a message linked to it. The first week is celebrated as a week of joy, followed by that of love, hope and peace, he adds.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the celebrations were restricted but fellow Christians did not forget members of the community faced with hardship. On a self-help basis, gifts of rations were distributed to the needy at the church. The gift of rations had been doubled this Christmas, says Komal Azad, member of the Oswald church’s youth wing. The choir also sang hymns during the service. The participants took Holy Communion in remembrance of the Christ’s Last Supper. Special prayers were offered at the conclusion of the Christmas service.