Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Midnight Mass (Misa De Gallo)

You can notice the Christmas buzz going around here clearly. As long as three weeks ago, my apartment complex was lit up with Christmas lights. With great evening weather that is cool and dry, the restaurants at the Plaza outside my condo has a very festive and happy atmosphere with families and friends eating, drinking, chatting and laughing in large groups late into the night. You can literally feel the cheers in the air.

The atmosphere is really different. In the US, you feel the rush-rush of people preparing for Christmas, planning for hollidays, trying to finish up the year and the obligatory greetings and parties - its all too stressful actually. In Singapore, you see the big bucks been spend on Orchard Road, pretentious people organising pretentious parties, a large number of people planning to leave the city for hollidays. Its all lacks a certain spirit. While I was in Spain and Italy, the celebration is not as commercial and and there is lot less buzz going into the holliday - its really about family and friends getting together too.

But here the whole spirit starts earlier. And starting this week, every night I see people gathering everywhere for Midnight Mass - they do it everywhere - in malls, in open air spaces, around every church. They do this every night through Christmas Day.

I am believer in separation of religion and state but somehow this sounds good to me rather than the over commercialism and forced obligations that is the ritual of Christmas elsewhere. Sombre reflection and sharing of meals and conversation with friends and family. That should be the way of Christmas over gift giving, Christmas parties and winter vacations.

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