CHRISTMAS EVE

Christmas Eve marks the start of the holiday season at the end of the year. For many Christians, it is a day to remember the events around the birth of Jesus. Some people, especially Roman Catholics, attend a midnight mass at church. Traditionally, the midnight mass started at midnight, just as Christmas Eve ended and Christmas Day started. However, now may churches hold this church service in the late afternoon or early evening of Christmas Eve.

Churches across Prakasam District, Andhra Pradesh, India, including the 106-year-old Jewett Memorial Baptist Church which reminds one of the popularity of the American Baptist Mission in these parts, have been decked up for Christmas. As well was tastefully decorated as also 140 member churches of the Ongole Denomination of churches in the city and elsewhere in the district including the 140-year-old Baptist church at Ramayapatnam. Huge stars dotted the skyline as faithful geared up for the midnight mass.

Homes were illuminated with huge stars and Christmas trees. Young and old alike went on a shopping spree as shopkeepers offered attractive discounts to woo them. The month-long semi Christmas celebrations peaked on the Christmas Eve with youth singing carols in different churches. Community leaders pooled money and distributed new clothes and groceries to the downtrodden sections of people. Schools organized celebrations on Christmas Eve for students to understand the religious significance of the festival and carry forward the message of peace and love spread by Jesus Christ. Boys in the attire of Santa Claus and girls dressed like angels were the cynosure of all eyes during the celebrations.

All churches are decked up for Christmas celebrations. The oldest churches like Coles Centennial Church, Cathedral, CSI Church, St. Mary’s Church and St. Theresa Church were decorated for the festival. The festivity began on Wednesday itself with youth and volunteers conducting choirs and games. Midnight mass was conducted at all the places where church heads addressed the gathering after the prayers. Temporary shops were set up at the places where vendors did brisk business.