Reflections on Christmas Day in the City

So the much hyped Christmas Day finally arrives and everybody is busy at it. Spending Christmas in the city can be so diverse that various people go about it in a variety of different ways. I will like to consider spending Christmas by some various groups of people in society and how i think they will spend the Christmas day and the holidays in general.

The year 2012 has been an interesting year in as many calendars as come to mind. In the traditional calendar that is used by everyone there have been some very interesting dates: 01/01/12. 12/01/12, 02/02/12,12/02/12,  06/06/12, 10/10/12. 12/12/12, 20/12/2012 and the year the Mayan Calendar purports the world to end on 21/12/12. These dates have marked very special and carried lots of superstitions with them this year. But in the end we are still here.

There have been public holidays that have been fun but all these holidays have somewhat been skewed towards the insignificant and boring. Let us take for example the Worker’s Holiday, May 1st where workers went on a march past in all the regions in Ghana to mark the day but yet still had to go to work the very next day. Most of the holidays, just like Christmas, have not been favourable to the Ghanaian worker at all. The holidays have been on weekdays, apart from a few.

Another holiday under consideration will be the Nkrumah Day on May 25 instituted by the African Union executive. Ghana has adopted the holiday but most of the African countries, even our closest English speaking neighbours Nigeria, have not taken it seriously. It might be a statutory holiday but then most people end up going to work. With the kind of vision Kwame Nkrumah had, it is rather pathetic that we are holding on to his ideas and ideals still not only as a country but as a continent. His vision for a united Africa came to fruition in the African Union ratification in 2001. The man expressed this vision and was pushing for it as far as in the 1960s. On Nkrumah Day, the Hydro Electric Dam that he built is still the main source of electricity in Ghana and half the nation was kept in darkness the whole day. Is that how we honour the founder of a nation?  Well, this writing is about Christmas so let us get back to it.

The year also marked a political election year with the various parties seriously campaigning to win the hearts and hitherto the votes of the masses of Ghanaians. Politicians were busy putting their houses in order and it was sometimes humorous and at other times pathetic just seeing them going about their campaigns. In the end, we all know the result since it’s still fresh in our memories.

Then finally, the Christmas we so anticipated is here. A month to Christmas and politics was the order of the day in Accra and the urban centres. Campaign speeches, songs and slogans were rife and some of the masses complained of ‘hardship’ in the economy. Most people did not really know how Christmas was going to go and hinged the Christmas celebration on the results of the elections.

Just after the election, then the crowds set in and the Christmas spirit could be felt. In a week, throngs of people trooped into the capital to put in their Christmas shopping. Traffic in the city was unprecedented, gargantuan, woyomic and the entire terms city dwellers give a situation depending on what is trending politically, socially and economically. The Christmas fever has set in.

If you are a politician who won the election, then it means you will celebrate it differently from the one who lost, obviously. If you are a member of parliament and you lost your seat, then Christmas will be a time to mourn but interestingly, you have some arrears to collect from the Salaries Recommendation Committee. For those politicians who were counting on the money from the SRC and therefore went to borrow funds for election campaign using it as collateral, then it is a colossal loss.

If you are an average civil servant, Christmas will mean that at least you get a chicken, a gallon of oil and a bag of rice – all quantities depending on your level in the administrative structure of the civil organisation and how long you have worked in that particular outfit.

The ordinary Ghanaian can only look forward to what he/she can get from whatever job that they have, no matter what. Christmas is a time for merry making and there have been times when some people just use the occasion and holiday to just relax and take time off whatever they are doing and relax. It does not matter who you are and what you do and how much you make in your business, Christmas has always been a time for reflection & relaxation.

However as discussed earlier, 2012 has been a calendar mischief year. Christmas is a Tuesday, invariably the day after is a holiday but then there is work right thereafter on Thursday and Friday before the weekend. This has therefore led Christmas in the urban centres, where lots of businesses are located, become a time when inasmuch as one has fun, one has an eye out for and not looking forward to work on Thursday at all.

Families decorate their houses in anticipation of Christmas and on Christmas Day play carols throughout the day. Some friends hang out with each other and it is a time for old friends to come together after seeing each other sparsely during the year.

The Christmas holidays elsewhere in the world are still celebrated as 12 days but in Ghana there are only 4 days of Christmas – 25th and 26th December and 1st and 2nd January. It is back to business as usual after these days. Next year however is another rarity that happens every four years in Ghana – the swearing in ceremony of the president elect on 7th January. That is also another holiday spent as part of the Christmas for the party that won the elections. Means they get to stay in power for the next four years.

Moreover it is important that we do not forget the idea behind Christmas – that Jesus Christ was born on this day and his mission in the world was to save the world and reconcile God’s creation back to Him. In Christ-like fashion it is a time to share, to love and just do good and expect nothing in return.

Christmas is a time for merry making and joy but it is best enjoyed if this merry making and joy is shared with the less fortunate in society.

 Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!



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