Come December, and the Christmas season begins, filling the air with thoughts of Santa Claus, gifts, Christmas trees, jingle bells, lights, carols, decorations and lots of snow. And if there’s one festival that appears to cut across religious and cultural barriers and reach out to just about everyone, it’s Holiday season in December.
Many South Asians have integrated into Canadian society enough to make Christmas holidays their own. Right from Christmas trees to gifts, cakes, wine and parties everyone is in the mood for goodwill and good doses of merriment.
Preparations for Christmas at the Agarwal household have already begun. “Christmas gets you into the right spirit. We put up a Christmas tree, go shopping for gifts for family and friends, take the children for Christmas parties and visit our friends for a festival lunch. It’s nice to expose our children to all the festivals,” says designer Jaya Agarwal.
At the Chandra’s residence, Christmas is not just about the gifts and goodies; it’s all about the spirit of giving. “It is such a universal festival. We love the feeling of Christmas. There’s so much cheer and joy associated with it. Of course the children love Santa and the gifts, but to us, it is always a festival of sharing and love,” says Montessori teacher Shrija Chandra.
With the Yuletide spirit in the air, it’s party time for the trendy teenagers. The hip, the hep and the happening brigade gears up to welcome the grand old Santa in the most innovative way. Designer outfits, symbolic decor, Carol singing sessions, partying and exchanging gifts rate high on the priority list. There are preparations galore and everyone braces up big time for Christmas celebrations.
Elaborating on this, Satish Agarwal, who is all set to throw a Christmas party this year says, “Youngsters nowadays need an opportunity to celebrate life. Be it any festival, they go out to have a gala time. That is, perhaps, the reason why kids today organise parties not only on Diwali, but also on St Valentine’s Day and Friendship Day, alongside Halloween. In fact, Christmas today is almost as big an occasion as Diwali”.
“With stockings filled with presents, Christmas trees all lit up with glittering lights, fun and merry making in the air, all I can say is Christmas today has become a universal festival the world over. It has overcome national, religious and social barriers to become a global celebration,” says Ankit Kumar from Brampton. He further says “We celebrate for the fun sake of my two children. Christmas has an element of surprise, which makes it a special festival. None of the Indian festivals can match the excitement received from peeling off gift wrappers given by Santa. The children remain creatively busy decorating the Christmas tree.”
In fact, today several families even have a shopping budget for various festivals in the year. Nitya and Abhi love to share their Christmas goodies with the less fortunate. “I get completely into the ‘Christmassy’ feeling once I see all the decorations on the roads. Not only do we put up a tree at home and buy gifts for family and friends, but we also go shopping for the underprivileged. After all, it is a special day for them too,” says Abhi, Customer Service Executive at Bell.
Ankit (Brampton) also believes there is another reason. “Parents these days try to be part of the elite crowd by encouraging their children to celebrate every festival. By doing so, they display an unconventional approach towards society and towards life itself”.
The enthusiasm with which most South Asians celebrate Christmas, even though they are not Christians, is a marvellous example of the secular nation we represent, where festivals of all beliefs are joyously celebrated. So have a merry Christmas.