Do you ever ponder on the fact that throughout the period our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ lived on earth, he wore only one type of simple sandals? Infact nowhere in the Bible are we told that He visited a boutique to buy anything. We all know that Jesus had more time for people who were poor and not like others.
Today some of the richest people are Reverends and Pastors, Men of God, some in countries where poverty is endemic. Today many churches which preach Prosperity have the largest congregations. Their General Overseers, Pastors live in the most expensive ways, driving the most expensive cars and having scores of mansions. Hey don’t get me wrong, being rich and living the good life is definitely very good!
Well, Christmas is here again! You know, for many families in Sierra Leone living in poverty Christmas is just another day which is part of their long battle to feed their children during an ever-life-threatening economic and security crisis. Look I am not talking here about our failed coup attempt and the existential political and social threatening apprehensions that we are going through. For some people their poverty story never changes whether they have 365 days of All- night Prayers. Don’t tell me this our world is level or balanced. This life is a journey and we should try to make both the journey and the destination equally important. However, people choose different methods or ways of travelling. Even when today there are ready-made clothes that fit every age and size, there are people who cannot afford new, clean ones for their children at Christmas.
Definitely, the Yuletide period increases anxiety about how to meet the expenses including possible gifts for children. While more affluent neighbours might be discussing yuletide holiday plans, you do not have money and are wondering how to ensure one meal a day. Most times during the Christmas season, people often concentrate on the joy and merriment that it engenders. However, it is very important to think of members of our communities who are not as fortunate. What is clear is that Christmas does not do away with Christmas. The reality of poverty remains to be harsh even during this special time of the year.
As our world becomes more and more unpredictable poverty continues to affect more and more people around the world. People look at Christmas in different
ways depending on mainly their level of affluence or poverty. For millions of people, Christmas is a sad season especially those living under the poverty line. Sierra Leoneans this Christmas, are in a flux, torn between security threats and livelihood commodities and essential foods price hikes.
The government’s lifting of the curfew was a very welcome move despite the police reminder of sections of the 1965 Public Order Act as amended citing particular sections on peace and decorous conduct of citizens especially during the Yuletide period. Things are made more difficult for the poor due to the waning charity of the wealthy. The lifting of the curfew will definitely open up more avenues for livelihood for the poor but even with that things will work more for those who are well-off. For children, the gifts they receive increase their self-esteem. Unlike developed countries, we hardly see the Father Christmas phenomenon here in Sierra Leone.
Father Christmas or Santa Claus in many advanced countries provide gifts to poor children who otherwise may go through the Christmas period without gifts from their poor parents. Indeed, there should be avenues in which at least for the Yuletide should be made to enjoy merriment, thereby forgetting the usually harsh realities of life. On the part of the adults, many attempt to socialize and subsequently drink more, to sort of kill the bad feeling of their inadequacies. Although Christmas has been touted as a time for generosity, there are many who don’t have the means to be generous. Christmas is a wonderful season and parents can actually be overwhelmed by their children’s joy from receiving gifts. And kids can have free range in their imaginations, having a wide range of things they want.
Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts during the late evening and overnight hours on Christmas Eve. The modern figure of Santa is based on folklore traditions surrounding Saint Nicholas, the English figure of Father Christmas, and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas.
Father Christmas dates back as far as the 16th century in England during the reign of Henry VIII when he was pictured as a large man in green or scarlet robes lined with fur. He typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food and wine and revelry.  As England no longer kept the feast day of Saint Nicholas on 6 December, the Father Christmas celebration was moved to 25 December to coincide with Christmas Day. The Victorian revival of Christmas included Father Christmas as the emblem of good cheer. His physical appearance was variable with one image being John Leech’s illustration of the “Ghost of Christmas Present” in Charles Dickens’s festive story A Christmas Carol (1843), as a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur who takes Scrooge through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace.
Santa is generally depicted as a portly, jolly, white-bearded man, often with spectacles, wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, a red hat trimmed with white fur, a black leather belt and boots, carrying a bag full of gifts for children. He is popularly associated with a deep, hearty laugh, frequently rendered in Christmas literature as “ho, ho, ho!”
Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in the region of Lycia in the Roman Empire, today in Turkey. Nicholas was known for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.
Back home in Sierra Leone the father Christmas Figure is yet to be popularized of late. The past few years of rancour between the two main parties, the violent demonstrations and the recent coup attempt has left huge apprehensions in the minds of the populace. Even with welcome lifting of the curfew, one can only say season’s greetings amidst season’s grievances. All the same Merry Christmas! Remember you may hang loose but please don’t spill over.