Reviving the true Christmas spirit
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, stores around the city and around the world are alreasy ready to jump into high drive for the antici...
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, stores around the city and around the world are alreasy ready to jump into high drive for the anticipated Christmas rush. In the U.S.? where doom and gloom hangs over the retail industry, manufacturers are shipping direct to discount stores in an endeavor to entice recession wary customers, but in Panama sales have been brisk at stores that have been displaying their Christmas wares since, or before Halloween.
But it’s easy to lose the significance of the holiday amidst the bombardment of programs advertising this season’s must haves. Find below, a couple of events organized to help Christians keep true to the meaning of Christmas.
Saving Christmas. The priest and collaborating vicar at the Iglesia de San Jose (Altar de Oro) in San Felipe, Jeronimo Azanza, is organizing for the third consecutive year a nativity competition.
Azanza is set to recuperate the spiritual and evangelical meaning of Christmas in the face of the threats of consumerism and Santa Claus, which the Spanish priest, born in Navarra, calls a sort of “satan claus.” The contest, explained Azanza, tests originality, simplicity, creativity, the message and mystery of Bethlehem through art and effort. Azanza hopes to save Christmas from the increasing worship of Santa Claus and return it to its due owner, Jesus Christ. His only wish is for people to remember the unique and special event that occured in Bethlehem.
The contest has grown in appeal, going from 50 participating nativity sets in 2006 to 120 last year coming from families, businesses, and other parishes, and organizers expect more to sign up this year. A committee helps the priest visit the different homes, schools and institutions in the competition to check out and grade the nativity sets.
The awards ceremony will be on December 27 at the parochial room in the Iglesia San Jose, where everyone will be recognized for their participation. Those interested in participating can talk directly with the parish or can call 228-8943 for more information.
Play on the Christmas Spirit : The 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21 of December watch out for the “San Nicolas y el espiritu de la Navidad) play in Spanish at Teatro La Quadra. Written and directed by Pablo Salas, this play retells the story of Saint Nicolas of Bari, a Lycian saint and Bishop of Anatolia. With a reputation for secret gift-giving, St Nicolas is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. The play is a worth watching if you want to discover where the different attributes we attach to Santa Claus most likely came from.
According to the biography written by St. Methodius, archbishop of Constantinople, St Nicolas was born into a wealthy family and from his early childhood was characterized by his generous and pious character. Becoming a priest, after his parents’ death Nicolas inherited a large fortune, which he put in the service of those in need.
Legend says that one of his most famous ordeals was helping out a poor man who had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. There are many accounts of how the charity scene played out, including one that states that hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him by dropping bags full of gold coins down the chimney; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking. Sound familiar? The story also goes that he would give gifts to children as a reminder that during Christmas Christians receive the best gift of all through Christ, that of hope of eternal salvation.
The play will be showing at 8:00 p.m. from Dec 15 -19, at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Dec 20, and at 11:00 a.m. 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Dec 21. Tickets are $5 and you can call 6470-2757 for more info.
Christmas donations: In the spirit of charity, note two events where you can revive the spirit of Christmas by extending a helping hand to those most in need. The St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral in Cerro Ancon is holding a Christmas Bazaar on Saturday December 6th. Help them help others by donating gently used items of clothing, especially children’s clothes, shoes and toys. Fixable toys are also welcome. Contact Elizabeth at 262-1280 during church Office hours, or Sarah 6670-0794.
Yesterday, the “Angel Tree” lighting ceremony took place in the lobby of the National Hospital. The tree carries many “angels” with the name/age/sex of an orphaned child whose Christmas you can light up by sponsoring a Christmas gift. Drop by and with your donation, enter into the true spirit of Christmas.