Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas

Out very own Raj Kapur and Sharmila Tagore around our Christmas tree.

Anjali, here are some Christmas stories for you. When you grow up and read this blog, you can know these stories, even if mummy, for some reason didnt tell them to you.
Ponder the Poinsettia
The poinsettia is synonymous with the spirit of Christmas, not only because it blooms in wintertime, but because of the legend that associates it with the Christ child.

This story tells that the poinsettia was once a nondescript roadside weed. Desperate for a gift to offer the baby Jesus, an impoverished little Mexican girl presented the Messiah with an armload of poinsettia branches she had picked and tied together with hand-woven twine. Once in His holy presence, the uppermost leaves on the branches spontaneously turned a vivid red.

A Christmas Without Music
One of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time, Silent Night, was written in 1818 by an Austrian priest, Joseph Mohr, and set to music by composer Franz Gruber. It is said that Joseph was told a few days before Christmas that the church organ in the parish of Oberndorf was broken and could not be repaired in time for Christmas Eve services. He was saddened by this and could not bear to think of Christmas without music.

On Christmas Eve, he sat down and wrote three stanzas, then gave the poem to Franz Gruber. He requested that it be set to music for soloists, chorus and guitar. That same evening, Franz brought the simple composition to Joseph and still later that night, the people in the little Austrian church sang Stille Nacht (Silent Night) for the first time.

Silent Night, more than any other Christmas song, can evoke such emotion in me that when I hear it, I instantly begin to tear up. The power of this simple song was never more evident than on the battlefields of Flanders in World War I in what has come to be known as "the Christmas truce of 1914."

The "great war" had been raging for nearly five months when Christmas arrived in 1914. The Germans were in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug into miles of muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep. On Christmas Eve, the soldiers' thoughts turned to their homes and families as they settled down in their bunkers with letters and pictures from their loved ones. While the bitter cold air blew in around them, they turned their faces into their coats and tried to sleep.

In the early morning hours of December 25th, the allies heard the distant sounds of Silent Night being sung from the German trenches across the "no man's land" between them. As they raised their heads to peek across, the startled allies were amazed to discover that the Germans had erected dozens of small Christmas trees lit with candles outside their trenches. Many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to call out a Christmas truce to the allies.

The British and French troops accepted, and all along the miles of trenches, a spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their bunkers, meeting in the middle to shake hands, exchange gifts, share photos and forget the horrors of war for at least one day. When the dreaded moment finally came for each side to return to their trenches, the soldiers said goodbye to their new friends and sank down into their muddy holes. With heavy hearts, they once again began fighting a war that continued for four more years.

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