Christmas Is Green And White
CHRIST is celebrated in every part of the world and it is a festive season. It comes with celebrations in various traditions in different climes. The difference in climate conditions to a large extent, determines how people go about their festivities. In a warm tropical climate such as ours, nature remains green at Christmas time. So we can plan social activities and celebrations for the outdoor: parties, picnics, holiday travels. Many important social and family events are reserved for the Christmas season.
It is the time for great merriment and feasts. There are carnivals, traditional masquerading and firework displays to entertain. It is the season for the traditional gathering of the clan, so to speak; when the people travel from every corner of the globe to their ancestral roots to gather at the place that is known as their ‘‘traditional home” to celebrate with kinsmen (‘‘their brothers and sisters”). All these and more take place in bright sunshine in surroundings living green and blooming nature.
There is no freezing or chilly temperatures. Well, maybe a little from the evening or early morning chill of the harmattan when the temperature drops a little after the hot blazing sunshine of the afternoon which is most welcome. The Christmas season which brings the harmattan is special as this is the only time some plants like the Harmattan lilies (Amaryllis belladonna) display their blooms. A few species of the frangipani trees shed their leaves and have all their branches covered with blossoms like Christmas fairy lanterns.
It is also the best season for the bougainvillea as they shimmer in colorful hues like decorative crepe paper to earn the nickname ‘‘paper flowers” It is the season for water lilies floating on still waters. Of course, the harvests of numerous fruits and vegetables add their colors. Christmas season. Since there is no fear of a wet messy climate, decorations are extended to the outdoor spaces especially the gardens.
Living trees, growing shrubs, lawns, hedges and other plants are decorated to express the joyous spirit of Christmas in the tropics, Christmas is celebrated in living green. The color of Christmas is green. Nigeria which lies in the tropics, the color green is symbolic of fertility, continuous growth and prosperity. In contrast, in temperate regions, where the climate sometimes gets to minus zero Celsius, nature would have shed its green as nearly all foliage would have disappeared by the Christmas season. Winter would have set in, and most times the climate is so cold, it freezes, instead of green foliage, everywhere is covered with snow.
The cold weather presents its own unique features of nature. Nature is clad in snow’s white. Christmas decorations and celebrations are mostly for the indoors. Some of these decorations are symbolic; the Xmas tree depicts the longing for the green and warm summer colors to brighten the cold atmosphere. So small trees of a few species of evergreens especially from the pine family (coniferous species) are cut, brought indoors and decorated in colorful tinsel and fairy lights. There are other traditional plant decorations as the Yule log which must burn in the fireplace during the season. Other features include Xmas wreath, acorns, oranges and lemons (for high dose of Vit. C) to ward away evil spirits which bring the flu.
There are special dishes such as the Christmas roasts, cakes and sweets. People take advantage of the unique feature of the cold climate which is snow and look forward and pray for a ‘‘White Xmas.” Snow’s white is symbolic for purity and a cleansing of nature. It also means they can enjoy games or sports which can only take place on snow.
On a snowy winter day, people warmly dressed go out to play in the snow; to build a snowman and other sculpture made from snow. Others pack their gears and head for the mountains to ski. The traditional means of transportation is the sleigh, drawn by reindeers, still common in the Tundra regions.
In the temperate regions of the world, white of snow dominates the Christmas season. Christmas, regardless of where in the world it is celebrated, is a time to stay away from the stress and drudgery of life to relax and enjoy, to show love to others. Some of the ways are by the sharing of gifts and entertainments.
Come to think of it, our national colors are green and white. We have the best of both worlds; green for fertility, continuous growth and prosperity, while white is symbolic for holiness, purity and cleansing.
It is right then to say we are doubly blessed. May Nigeria be truly prosperous, pure and cleansed of all corruption. In the symbolic meanings of the colors, may Christmas be green and white and green again! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!
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