Published in The Communique December 2012 issue.
Winter is here, the woolens are out and it’s that time of the year again. There is cheer all around; the homes are filled with laughter and in the words of Edward Pola and George Wyle, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Yes, it’s Christmas.
Everyone gets excited even when the word is just mentioned, each for their own reason. Maybe it’s the thought of decorating their houses with bright and colourful lights, or because of the sweet aroma coming from the kitchen, where mummy is getting the traditional Christmas dishes prepared. For some, the time of Christmas is synonymous with carols.
Christmas carols are songs whose theme is Christmas. They are traditionally sung during the season of Christmas at services in churches. The choirs are all deep in preparation; some of them start as early as October. “We began practice more than a month ago. This a special time of the year for us and we want to sound perfect,” said Philip Rasquinha, who conducts the Infant Jesus Church Choir.
Apart from singing at church, most of them go carolling. Many choirs across Bangalore visit houses a week or two before Christmas singing carols and spreading the Christmas cheer to everyone around. Lenora Fernandez, from the Pallotine Youth for Jesus Choir says, “It is a wonderful combination of music and togetherness. It is an awesome way to bring in fun and frolic that Christmas holds.” The singing is accompanied by a choir member dressed as Santa Claus distributing sweets to little children along the way. Every child jumps for joy when they hear the roaring peal of Santa Claus’ signature “Ho ho ho.” The joy that is shared is immense and some of them feel as if each house is a manger ready to welcome the baby Jesus, and they are bringing the good news to everyone in that house. Nivia Vas, a member of Infant Jesus Church Choir (IJC) says, “As a child, I used to look forward to our Church choir serenading us with carols, and Santa, who usually accompanies them. As the years passed by, I received the opportunity to spread the same joy to other families.”
Carolling is used in a way to announce to the people the good news that is the birth of our Saviour points out Fr. Gabriel Christy, Assistant Parish Priest of Infant Jesus Church. “The season of Christmas brings the same joy that was brought to the lowly shepherds two thousand years ago. The songs of the angels heralded to them the birth of Jesus and in the same way we do that to every household through carolling.” He says.
Christmas brings with it several little joys, carolling being one of the most favourite to many. It heralds the coming of the Christmas season. As a tradition, carolling has been there for a long time, most have learned the tradition from their parents who in turn got it from their own parents. Usually popular carols are sung so that everyone may join in and sing along. The people too, look forward to the carollers coming to their homes heralding the birth of our Lord. Some homes prepare a small feast so that the famished carollers may dig in and get refreshed.
Many touching stories can be heard from the choristers about the houses they visited. Jenita Maria from IJC can never forget the first year she went carolling and sang for an old couple. The joy she saw in them remains in her thoughts to this day. Nivia is quick to add that the smile that is brought upon a person's face through carolling is a testament to the fact that Christmas is a season of unity; that no one is a stranger; we are united in our love for the season and its traditions. “One memory that remains etched in my mind is that of Christmas 2011. A few of us went to the home of an old lady, who was very ill. As we entered the hall singing 'Deck the Halls', her face lit up with joy. She requested for a few of her favourite carols, to which we happily obliged. As we were leaving, her husband approached us and thanked us for making his wife the happiest she had been since her illness. The feeling of having made someone's day gave us a great sense of satisfaction, which is probably what made Christmas that year all the more special for us.” She says.
Christmas is indeed the season to be jolly and a time to give. Not just material happiness but also give the happiness that comes with Christmas. Let us get out there and spread the yuletide cheer and in the eternal words of Charles Dickens, “God bless us, every one!”