CHRISTMAS, a Christian feast marked every December 25 has a particular spetacular aura..
The origin dates back to Jewish feast of Saturnalia which usually held from 17 to 25 December in the 1st Century CE but was imported into Christian festival in 4th Century. Before the turn of the 4th Century, the feast marked a period of legal anarchy; a time Roman courts were shut and no-one punished for damaging property or injuring people in the weeklong celebration. It usually starts with Roman authorities picking Roman enemy to represent the ‘Lord of Misrule’ for the Romans.
In a bid to convert the Jewish pagans into Christianity, Rome adopted the Saturnalia into the birthday feast of Jesus Christ, a system that despite its early reluctance worked out in the spread of Christian faith to the contemporary time.
As Christianity began to gain strong footing in the early Centuries AD, both Jewish orthodox and neo faith were connected by the feast and no sooner, the Christian approach to the feast eclipsed the traditional way.
In the contemporary world, Christians and non believers alike join in the mood of the season without recourse to their opposite stance.
Despite the fact that Christmas has been adopted as a constant phenomenon, which comes about on December 25 every year, it comes so suddenly to many people yearly, triggering hassles and bustles that shake all ends of the world.
Christmas season comes with mixed feelings depending on one’s class in the social stratification. For the children, it is a time much longed for. It is a period new set of clothes, shoes and other niceties are received from parents and loved ones. It is equally a season of endless shopping, merriment and meeting with distant cousins, uncles, aunts and other relations. It is even time for some to visit their village after a long stay in their places of residence.
However, for the parents and guardians, it is a real pressure time. The needs that make Christmas fun must be provided and everybody goes the extra mile to keep their wards in the best cheery mood. This leaves a deep hole in their pockets of parents and guardians as they try to match expenditure with needs associated with the season.
As the Christmas carols waft from different quarters, intensifying the mood; so do markets, roads get charged in frenzy. Prices of commodity shoot up during this season in Nigeria and other climes with similar characteristics to Nigeria’s own.
In fact, the high cost of products add to the tension that the season evokes in the lives of Nigerian adults whose incomes barely match basic needs, yet have to grapple with the impromptu sharp increments of commodity prices.
But that is not even the biggest headache. The rate of accidents on Nigerian roads during festive periods and Christmas particularly leaves much to be desired. According to Federal Road Safety report, ember months record the highest number of road accidents in a given year.
Last year alone, about 5827 number of road traffic crashes were recorded with 4163 deaths between January and November , according to FRSC Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem.
This is even coming at a time FRSC’s sensitisation on road safety usage is gradually permeating the consciousness of road users, yet human and material losses continue to be recorded in worrisome proportion.
Curiously, 83 per cent of these accidents, according to study is attributable to human factors and could have been averted if proper care was taken.
Agreed that the state of road infrastructure is nothing to write home about and contributes majorly to accidents, especially, the federal roads, cutting across the southern region; the recklessness of drivers and other operators has contributed to unimaginable loss of lives and property.
Federal Road Safety Corps has not relented in sensitisation, arrest and prosecution exercises to ensure travelers enjoy safer trips, but it shocks the mind when vehicles continue to ply the roads either heavily overloaded or terribly in poor condition; turning potential danger to other road users.
Now that the Christmas has come once again, this time under the pressure of COVID-19 pandemic, not everybody will be keen in traveling around for the celebrations. This may be premised on keeping to caution and avoiding any act that may causlifetime regrets to people.
To say that economies suffered serious setback this year due to COVID-19 is merely stating the obvious. The pandemic shrank economies such that the toll on people’s purchasing power is very enormous; leaving many in quandary how to go about the Christmas.
Arguably, the real challenge this season as the celebrations get underway on Friday is how people would keep to the coronavirus protocols and save the populace further woes with spread of the virus. This raises more concerns than the Christmas itself given the threat of resurgence or second wave emergence as warned by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
From the consequences of the lockdown in March which put many businesses in tatters and escalated hunger across the country, nobody would wish a repeat of that experience. But to avoid this, the need to observe all COVID-19 protocols and minimum culture of wearing facemasks has to be reactivated.
Good enough, the hinterlands would surge with people from far and near this festive period, it behooves that, the message has to be taken down to the grassroots. Therefore, when village squares fill up with people for either Christmas games or masquerade parades, individuals would make more masquerades with their facemasks than the conventional masquerades.
Commenting on celebrating Christmas amid the pandemic, Chibuzor Offor noted that COVID-19 may have changed the routine of everyone but he will celebrate the festive period like old times. According to him, he will travel to the village to hook up with friends and family members.
Pastor Tunji Oduola opined that it is a season that comes with love, joy and hope and people will always want to celebrate the season with their loved ones. However, while calling for caution and moderation during the season, he urged all to adhere to the COVID 19 rules and regulations.
Also speaking, Tina Alabi, a businesswoman who deals in hampers gifts expressed unhappiness that business is not moving this year unlike past years during festive season. She said most people are complaining of lack of funds because not much happened this year due to the pandemic.