Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas and My Birthday

This years Christmas day was a dull one for me...i got fever and cold ...FLU ...on 24th i have asked my management for a day off . My plan was to "adichupoli" the Christmas day with friends. :( but God had another plan for me ... he told me to take rest... :( ..24th evening i was having mild fever i couldn’t attend the midnight mass... i missed it ..i was really looking forward for that as i too was there in decorating the stage where the midnight mass was to be held (midnight mass of Christmas and Easter is not celebrated at church, bcoz there will be a huge crowd that day and our church cant accommodate all.. so its conducted at the Sacred Heart School ground in "Isa town"...a town far from Manama)...

On 25th i was shivering with fever , still i went to church to attend the mass at 9:00 am...after that i called home ,felt very sad. I miss them really . when i came back to my room everyone was ready for celebration , we cut the Christmas cake.. and i went to bed ...i was that much tired ...i couldn’t eat anything ...i took some medicines... and my friends had an awesome lunch... ..evening i was feeling better ...

26th -- My Birthday .. i was feeling better ...i went to office ... my friends called me and wished me ...and everyone reminded me that its time that u think about family life :D (i think i should take that advice seriously)...... evening i went to church ..i was happy that there was adoration in the church...for one hour i sat there ..thanking god for whatever he has given to me in his life.. my parents, brother , sister, friends, good job..etc etc... when i thinking about my past, i found how beautifully he has molded my life ...but still sometimes i quarrel with HIM. asking this and that ..asking why this happened in my life ..why U couldn’t provide me that....etc etc ...but am sure whatever happens in my life is for my good only really thankful to my Lord.

Below is two photos of our Christmas crib at Church... Yeah our crib at churh is really big ..

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Crib (Nativity Scene)

Christmas Crib (Nativity Scene) is a visual representation of Christ's birthplace and related events which happened on that day. It usually contains sculpture/picture of, Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus inside the stable (will also have an ox and donkey), Angels singing Gloria, Shepherds with sheep’s, and the Three wise men coming to visit Jesus. And also there will be the star which leads the wise men to Bethlehem. It’s said St Francis of Assisi started the tradition of making sculptures for crib.

When i was young me and my brother used to make a "traditional" crib on the 24th of dec.. Yeah a keralite version of crib. The keralite crib of ours had some extra addins like.. black mountains, rivers, well , ponds..etc etc.. and we used to make miniature versions of green pastures by sowing "thena" ( i don’t know the English name of that) and Mustard seeds..the seeds usually germinates in 2 - 3 days and will look like a miniature version of green pasture. Mountains were created by painting newspaper with charcoal, and keeping it over rock pieces which will be made it in to the shape of mountains. The Well and Ponds were created by filling water inside hard shell of coconut. .. Everyone who made crib used their own imagination to make it more attractive... but the problem was sometimes u can see weird stuff inside crib.. I remember once seeing some penguins and polar bear inside the crib :( ....

Below are two images i got from net. Its from Kerala... a keralite crib u can say

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Tree

According to legend, Saint Boniface attempted to introduce the idea of trinity to the pagan tribes in Germany using the cone-shaped evergreen trees because of their triangular appearance. its said he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. And from that time onwards people began to put xmas trees in their houses, they also began to add gifts in to it and also lights. From germany the traditon of christmas trees began to spread to UK and to rest of Europe. From there it spread to the whole world.

Whatever the legend be , Christmas tree is now an integral part of christmas celebration. When i was a kid, me, my brother, and sister used to decorate our xmas tree with the help from dad. Actually our xmas tree was a permanent one, it was a Coco tree covered with a creeper variety of jasmine which stood just in front of our house. .So at the time of xmas we decorated it with whatever we can. And that realy looked beautiful at night.

Below is a nice Christams tale ..i dont know whos the Author .. but it defintely tells us to keep the real spirit of xmas , which i believe we are loosing...

The Last Christmas Tree

I saw a truck of Christmas trees and each one had a tale,
The driver stood them in a row and put them up for sale.

He strung some twinkly lights, and hung a sign up with a nail;

He poured himself hot cocoa in a steaming thermos cup,
And snowflakes started falling as a family car pulled up.

A mom, a dad, and one small boy who looked no more than three
Jumped out and started searching for the perfect Christmas tree.

The boy marched up and down the rows, His nose high in the air;
"It smells like Christmas, mom! "It smells like Christmas everywhere!"

"Let's get the biggest tree we can! "A tree that's ten miles high!
"A tree to go right through our roof! "A tree to touch the sky!"

"A tree SO big " That Santa Claus "Will stop and stare and say,
"'Now, THAT'S the finest Christmas tree "'I've seen this Christmas Day!'"

It seemed they looked at every tree at least three million times;
Dad shook them, pinched them, turned them 'round to find the perfect pine.

"I've found it, mom! "The Christmas tree I like the best of all!
"It's got a little bare spot, "But we'll turn that to the wall!"

"We'll put great-grandma's angel "On top the highest bough! "Oh, can we buy it?
"Please, mom, PLEASE?! "Oh, can we buy it NOW?"

"How 'bout some nice hot cocoa?" asked the man who owned the lot.
He twisted off the thermos top, "Now, THIS will hit the spot!"

He poured the steaming chocolate In three tiny paper cups.
They toasted,"Here's to Christmas!" And they drank the cocoa up.

"Is this your choice?" The tree man asked, "This pine's the best one here!"
The boy seemed sad--- "My daddy says" The price is just too dear."

"Then, Merry Christmas!" said the man, who wrapped the tree in twine,
"It's yours for just one promise "You must keep at Christmas time!"

"On Christmas Eve at bedtime "As you fold your hands to pray,
"Promise in your heart "To keep the joy of Christmas Day!"

"Now hurry home! This freezy wind"Is turning your cheeks pink!
"And ask your dad "To trim that trunk and give that tree a drink!"

And so it went on all that blustery eve
As the tree man gave tree upon tree upon tree

To every last person who came to the lot---
Who toasted with cocoa in small paper cups,

Who promised the promise of joy in their hearts---
And singing out carols, drove off in the dark.

And when it was over one tree stood alone;
But no one was left there to give it a home.

The tree man put on his red parka and hood
And dragged the last christmas tree out to the woods.

He left the pine right by a stream in the cold,
So the wood's homeless creatures could make it their home.

He smiled as he brushed off some snow from his beard,
When out of the thicket a reindeer appeared.

He scratched that huge reindeer on top his huge head---
"It looks like we've started up Christmas again!"

"There are miles more to travel, and much more to do!
"Let's go home, my friend, "and get started anew!"

He looked to the sky and heard jingle bells sound---
And then, In a twinkling, that tree man was gone!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Magi - Wise Men who Visited Christ

Magi - Wise Men who Visited Christ

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem . . .
Mathew 2:1

The Gospel of Matthew records the Magi as the first religious figures to worship Christ. Indeed of their three gifts, the last is the most important: myrrh. Myrrh was an herb that was mixed with oil to make a chrism, that is the ointment marking Jesus as a royal figure, a healer, and the divine Christ. This means that the Magi arrived at the stable with knowledge of the religious and cosmic importance of Christ's birth.

According to legends the name of the magi was Melchior, Balthazar, and Casper

A Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral, according to tradition, contains the bones of the Three Wise Men. Reputedly they were first discovered by Saint Helena on her famous pilgrimage to Palestine and the Holy Lands. She took the remains to the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; they were later moved to Milan, before being sent to their current resting place by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I in 1164.

Some Myths about Magi

1, They were 3 wise men - Bible doesnt says about the number of wise men
2, They came in camels - No, its not mentioned
3, They came from Perisa - Not sure, but it can be.
4, They were kings - Its said they were wise men not Kings
5, They came and visted christ at the stable on the day of his birth - not sure its on christmas itslef

We know from the Bible that wise men came from the east, that they followed a star to Bethlehem to find the Christ child, and that they brought him gold, and frankincense and myrrh. We must look to sources external to the Bible to find the origins of myths in details

Read about the visit of Magi in Bible (Malayalam)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Evolution of Santa Claus

Evolution of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is one of the most remarkable figure associated with Christmas. Santa has always been an essential part of the Christmas celebration, but the modern image of Santa didn't develop until well into the 19th century. Moreover, he didn't spring to life fully-formed as a literary creation or a commercial invention. Santa Claus was an evolutionary creation, brought about by the fusion of two christian religious personages (St. Nicholas and Christkindlein, the Christ child).

In 1804, New York Historical Society was founded with Nicholas as its patron saint, its members reviving the Dutch tradition of St. Nicholas as a gift-bringer. In 1809, Washington Irving published his satirical A History of New York, by one "Diedrich Knickerbocker," a work that poked fun at New York's Dutch past (St. Nicholas included).

When Irving became a member of the Society the following year, the annual St. Nicholas Day dinner festivities included a woodcut of the traditional Nicholas figure (tall, with long robes) accompanied by a Dutch rhyme about "Sancte Claus" (in Dutch, "Sinterklaas"). Irving revised his History of New York in 1812, adding details about Nicholas' "riding over the tops of the trees, in that selfsame waggon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children." In 1821, a New York printer named William Gilley issued a poem about a "Santeclaus" who dressed all in fur and drove a sleigh pulled by one reindeer.

On Christmas Eve of 1822, another New Yorker, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote down and read to his children a series of verses; his poem was published a year later as "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" Moore gave St. Nick eight reindeers (and named them all), and he devised the now-familiar entrance by chimney.

Meanwhile, in parts of Europe such as Germany, Nicholas the gift-giver had been superseded by a representation of the infant Jesus (the Christ child, or "Christkindlein"). The Christkindlein accompanied Nicholas-like figures with other names (such as "Père N?el" in France), or he travelled with a dwarf-like helper (known in some places as "Pelznickel," or Nicholas with furs). Belsnickle (as Pelznickel was known in the German-American dialect of Pennsylvania) was represented by adults who dressed in furry disguises (including false whiskers), visited while children were still awake, and put on a scary performance. Gifts found by children the next morning were credited to Christkindlein, who had come while everyone was asleep. Over time, the non-visible Christkindlein (whose name mutated into "Kriss Kringle") was overshadowed by the visible Belsnickle, and both of them became confused with St. Nicholas and the emerging figure of Santa Claus.

The Louis Prang 1886 Christmas card modern Santa Claus derived from these two images: St. Nicholas the elf-like gift bringer described by Moore, and a friendlier "Kriss Kringle" amalgam of the Christkindlein and Pelznickel figures. The man-sized version of Santa became the dominant image around 1841, when a Philadelphia merchant named J.W. Parkinson hired a man to dress in "Criscringle" clothing and climb the chimney outside his shop.

In 1863, a caricaturist for Harper's Weekly named Thomas Nast began developing his own image of Santa. Nast gave his figure a "flowing set of whiskers" and dressed him "all in fur, from his head to his foot." Nast's 1866 montage entitled "Santa Claus and His Works" established Santa as a maker of toys; an 1869 book of the same name collected new Nast drawings with a poem by George P. Haddon Sundblom illustration Webster that identified the North Pole as Santa's home.

The Santa Claus figure, although not yet standardized, was ubiquitous by the late 19th century. Santa was portrayed as both large and small; he was usually round but sometimes of normal or slight build; and he dressed in furs (like Belsnickle) or cloth suits of red, blue, green, or purple. A Boston printer named Louis Prang introduced the English custom of Christmas cards to America, and in 1885 he issued a card featuring a red-suited Santa. The chubby Santa with a red suit (like an "overweight superhero") began to replace the fur-dressed Belsnickle image and the multicolored Santas.

At the beginning of the 1930s, the burgeoning Coca-Cola company was still looking for ways to increase sales of their product during winter, then a slow time of year for the soft drink market. They turned to a talented commercial illustrator named Haddon Sundblom, who created a series of memorable drawings that associated the figure of a larger than life, red-and-white garbed Santa Claus with Coca-Cola. Coke's annual advertisements — featuring Sundblom-drawn Santas holding bottles of Coca-Cola, drinking Coca-Cola, receiving Coca-Cola as gifts, and especially enjoying Coca-Cola — became a perennial Christmastime feature which helped spur Coca-Cola sales throughout the winter (and produced the bonus effect of appealing quite strongly to children, an important segment of the soft drink market). The success of this advertising campaign has helped fuel the legend that Coca-Cola actually invented the image of the modern Santa Claus, decking him out in a red-and-white suit to promote the company colors — or that at the very least, Coca-Cola chose to promote the red-and-white version of Santa Claus over a variety of competing Santa figures in order to establish it as the accepted
image of Santa Claus.

So complete was the colonization of Christmas that Coke's Santa had elbowed aside all comers by the 1940s. He was the Santa of the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street just as he is the Santa of the recent film The Santa Clause. He is the Santa on Hallmark cards, he is the Santa riding the Norelco shaver each Christmas season, he is the department-store Santa, and he is even the Salvation Army Santa!

Long live Santa Claus!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Santa Within Me

Its Christmas season ...... Seasons Greetings to all.
i hope i can blog something related to Christmas , Santa Claus, etc etc in the coming days ....
so today am posting a story which i liked very much......

Author : Jay Frankston

The Santa Within Me

Theres nothing so beautiful as a childs dream of Santa Claus. I know; I often had that dream. But I am Jewish and my parents didnt celebrate Christmas. It was everyone elses holiday-a big party I wasnt invited to-and I felt left out. It wasnt toys I yearned for; it was Santa Claus and a Christmas tree. So when I got married and had children I decided to make up for what Id missed.

I started with a two-metre high tree, all decorated with lights and tinsel. The year was 1956, and we were living in New York City. My daughter Claire was only two, but her eyes sparkled as she smiled at the tree. It gave off warmth that filled every corner of our home. And it warmed my heart to see the glitter, cause now the party was at my house and everyone was invited.

But something was missing, something big and round and jolly, with jingle bells and a ho! ho! ho! So I bought some bright-red cloth and my wife made me a costume. Inflatable pillows filled out my skinny frame. A Santa mask, complete with whiskers and flowing white hair, made me look genuine enough to live up to a childs dream of old St Nick.

When I tired on the costume and looked in the mirror, there he was, big as life, the Santa of my childhood. I felt myself becoming Santa. I learned back and pushed out my pillow stomach. My voice got deeper and richer. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Claire was almost four and Danny not yet one when Santa first came to our house. They stood in awe and I saw in their eyes the fantasy and magic of what I had become. Santa was special. He was the personification of kindness and gentleness. He was a little scary, too.

Pathetic Appeals.
For two years I played Santa for my children, to their fright and delight and to my total enjoyment. And when the third year rolled around, the Santa in me had grown into a personality of his own and he needed more room. So, I sought to accommodate him by letting him do his thing for other children.

One day in late November, I saw this pretty little girl trying to reach a post-box slot, and saying, Mummy, are you sure Santa will get my letter? My mind began to whirl. All those children who write to Santa Claus, whatever becomes of their letters? A phone call to the postal service answered my question. The dead-letter office stored the thousands of letters in huge sacks.

The Santa in me went ho! ho! ho! and we headed to the post office. As I began rummaging through the letters, I become a little flustered at the demands and greed of so many spoilt children. Most of the letters were selfishly demanding. But, the Santa in me heard a voice from inside the post bags, and I continued searching until I came upon one letter that jarred me: Dear Santa, I am an 11-year-old girl and I have two little brothers and a baby sister. My father died last year and my mother is ill. I know there are many who are poorer than we are and I want nothing for myself, but could you send us a blanket cause Mummys cold at night. It was signed Suzy.

A chill went up my spine and the Santa in me cried, I hear you, Suzy. I dug deeper into those sacks and came up with another eight such letters, all calling out from the depths of poverty. I took them with me and went straight to the telegraph office and sent each child a telegram: Got your letter. Will be at your house. Wait for me. Santa.

I knew I could not possibly fill all the needs of these children, but if I could bring them hope, if I could make them fell that their cries did not go unheard.

I budgeted some money and went out and bought presents. On Christmas Day, my wife drove me around. My first call took me to the outskirts of the city. The letter from Peter Barski had read: Dear Santa, I am ten years old I am an only child. Weve just moved to this house and I have no friends yet. Im not sad because Im poor but because Im lonely. I know you have many people to see and you probably have no time for me. So I dont ask you to come to my house or bring anything. But could you send me a letter so I know you exist?

Dear Peter, my telegram began. Not only do I exist, but Ill be there on Christmas Day, Wait for me.

Peters house was wedged between two tall buildings. Its roof was of corrugated metal and it was more of a shack than a house. With a bag of toys slung over my shoulder, I walked up the steps and knocked. A heavy-set man opened the door. Boze moj, he said in astonishment-thats Polish for My God-and his hand went to his face. Please, he stuttered. The boy at mass. I go get him. Please wait, He threw on a coat and, assured that I would wait, ran down the street.

Wondrous Joy.
I stood there in front of the house, felling good. Then, across the street, I noticed another shack; through the window I could see little black faces peering at ae and tiny hands waving. The door opened shyly and some voices called out, Hiya, Santa.

I ho! ho! hoed my way over there, and a woman asked if Id come in, and I did. Inside were five children from one to seven years old. I spoke to them of Santa and the spirit of love, which is the spirit of Christmas. Then, seeing the torn Christmas wrappings, I asked if they liked what Santa had brought them. Each thanked me-for the woollen socks, the sweater and the warm underwear.

Didnt I bring you any toys? They shook their heads sadly. Ho ! ho! ho! I slipped up, I said, Well have to amend that. Knowing that we had extra toys in the car, I gave each child a toy. There was joy and laughter, but when Santa got ready to leave, I noticed one girl crying. I bent down and asked her, Whats the matter? Oh! Santa, she sobbed.

Im so happy. And the tears rolled from my eyes under the rubber mask. As I stepped out on the street, Panie, panie, prosze Sir, sir, please, I heard Mr. Barski say across the way. Peter just stood there and looked as Santa walked into the house. You came, he said. I wrote and .. You came.

When he recovered, I spoke with him about loneliness and friendship, and gave him a chemistry set and a basketball. He thanked me profusely. And his mother asked something of her husband in Polish. My parents were Polish, so I speak a little and understand a lot. From the North Pole, I said in Polish. She looked at me with astonishment. You speak Polish?Of course, I said. Santa speaks all languages. And I left them in joy and wonder.

Annual Duty.
The following year, when the momentum of Christmas began to build, I felt a stirring and I knew that the Santa within me was back. So I returned to the post office and to those heart-breaking letters. I made my rounds for 12 years in all, listening for the cries of children muffled in unopened envelopes, answering the call of as many as I could- frustrated at not being able to answer them all.

As time went on, word got out about Santa Claus and me, and manufacturers sent me cartons of toys. Having started with 20 children, I had wound up with 120, door to door, from one end of New York City to the other, from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

On my last call a few years ago, I knew there were four children in the family and I came prepared. The house was small and sparsely furnished. The youngsters had been waiting all day, staring at the telegram and repeating to their skeptical mother, Hell come, Mummy, hell come.

As I rang the bell, the door swings open and they all reach for my hands and hold on. Hiya, Santa. We just knew youd come.

A Friend.
I take each of them on my lap and tell stories of joy, hope and waiting, and give them each a toy. All the while theres this fifth child standing in the corner, a cute girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. I turn to her and say, Youre not part of this family, are you?

She shakes her head sadly and whispers, No. Whats your name? I ask.
How old are you?
Come, sit on my lap. She hesitates, but then comes over.
Did you get any toys for Christmas? I ask.
No, she says. I take out a big beautiful doll. Do you want this doll?
No, she says. And she leans over and whispers in my ear, Im Jewish.
I nudge her and whisper, Im Jewish, too.
Lisa grins from ear to ear. She takes the doll I hand her, hugs it and runs out.

I dont know which of us is happier-she or the Santa in me.

Merry Christmas, my friends.