Dec 9, 2011

7 observations about Christmas here

This is the second Christmas that we are spending in a country where the majority of the population celebrate Christmas. Here are some observations about the season.

1) It starts early. Christmas decorations are up two months before Christmas. In Malaysia, there is always Hari Raya or Deepavali or some other holiday before Christmas which reins in the retailers' excitable tendencies to get the spending season going.

2) And they have good reason to be excited. There is a spending frenzy going on and lot of goods customised for this season. Instead of the usual number of two cashiers at the local Target, there are eight on duty, and there is still a queue 10 people long. You can't find parking at the local mall at 11am on a weekday.

3) There are a lot of non-consumer options widely available as well - you can buy gifts of pigs, ducks, vision, water, sight, immunisations - things that will save a life or feed a family, instead of going to a landfill.

4) Christmas is in many ways, a secular holiday - with what is made up (reindeers and elves) melded with what came from culture and tradition (snowman and trees) and with the original reason of Christmas. It's lovely to see a public tribute to the latter. You can find live televised mass on tv. Last year, we watched the bishop celebrating Christmas mass on tv, a first time for us.

5) Cars drive around with a pair of antlers sticking out of their windows and a red bulbous nose in front.

6) Some houses are lit up like a Christmas tree.

7) Carols by candlelight (essentially a outdoor Christmas musical celebration at night) are everywhere - some big and lavish, some small and community driven. Last year, the day our TV arrived, we saw the Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne televised live, and what a beautiful musical extravaganzza that was.

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