A Perfume of Christmas in the Air…

Have consumerism, the desire for the enjoyment of life, and the preoccupation only with earthly things managed to entirely erase the Christmas spirit in souls?

Gaudium Press English Edition

Newsdesk (23/12/2021 19:25, Gaudium Press) With the end of the year festivities approaching, houses are already beginning to be adorned with trees, almost all of them artificial, full of balls and colourful decorations, stores are getting ready to sell more, employees are working overtime, someone is hired to dress up as Santa Claus, and everyone is waiting for the Christmas bonus for the Christmas dinner and presents, or for trips.

Everyone gets ready to live those days of holidays, of parties and enjoyment. But was the Christmas season always like this, so reduced to its materialistic aspects? Do people today remember the One whose birth we celebrate?

There was a time when the days preceding the long-awaited December 25th had a supernatural fragrance in the air. Much earlier, joy dominated hearts. The town was more decorated, trees were put up, and ingredients for delicious suppers were bought.

The adults mysteriously went out, and came back loaded with packages, and the little ones didn’t notice anything… or at least they were happy to look like they didn’t notice anything! The presents were not always expensive, but given with great affection! The figure of the Baby Jesus dominated everything.

The Nativity scene

Beside the evergreen trees, sometimes so high as to reach the ceiling of the house, the nativity scene could never be absent.

Moss was sought in the fields or in the markets, rice was planted in small pots in the scene on December 8th, feast of the Immaculate Conception, so that on the 24th it would be fully grown, everything done to give the most real air possible to the grotto of Bethlehem, where the Saviour would be born. The empty manger was only to be occupied at dawn on the 25th, when our Redeemer was born.

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Over the days, the Magi would travel the road, following the star that guided them, and only arrived at the holy cave on January 6th, as the oldest traditions tell us.

The 24th of December dawned completely different. In addition to the pleasant smell of sweets and fresh baking, and the slowly roasting turkey, an atmosphere of holy joy hung over the entire town.

New clothes were carefully prepared. Around five or six o’clock in the afternoon, the movement in the streets began to diminish. In the houses all the lamps were lit, the Christmas trees were blazing with their little coloured lights. Night was coming and people were getting ready for Mass. At ten o’clock the churches began to open and many people were arriving. The ladies prayed or sometimes whispered among themselves, the men yawned, and the children waited anxiously for the entrance of the Baby Jesus, who would be taken up by the priest to complete the beautiful crib, with it’s manger still empty.

The beautiful image of the Baby Jesus

A jingling of bells was heard, and singing filled the church with the sounds of that happy night. The Baby Jesus was born! The priest entered with a lovely little image of our God come as an infant, and placed it in the manger. Many faithful came to venerate it. Mass began, and Christmas reached its climax at the time of the Consecration and Communion.

When Mass was over, many families shared a delicious supper during the night, celebrating such an excellent anniversary. Others preferred to celebrate it with a hearty dinner the next day. But what was common in every home was to see the children, already on the 25th, playing and enjoying their new presents, happy to see that the Child Jesus brought the joy of salvation and rewarded them for their good behavior.

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Many families visited each other to personally greet their friends and relatives, wishing them a Merry Christmas filled with God’s blessings. It was indeed a time of peace, where faith was present and harmony among people reigned.

Has the true meaning of Christmas been lost? Has consumerism, the desire for the enjoyment of life, and the preoccupation only with earthly things completely erased the Christmas spirit in souls? Will Christmas continue to be celebrated without taking into account that this is the feast of the birth of the Child Jesus, who became incarnate and was born of the Virgin Mary to open the gates of Heaven for us? Will the innocent joys of the Christmas feasts of old no longer return?

It is difficult to answer these questions positively. But remembering the power of divine grace, we can only hope for the restoration of this supernatural joy.

Perhaps our reader will feel inspired to pray that this atmosphere of innocence will return, and that the perfume of the Christian spirit will permeate homes once again. Not only the perfume of times past, but that of a new era that is approaching, the era of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will make this feast a truly “Happy Night”…

 By Juliane Campos

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