Friday, December 01, 2006

Sweet December

We always boast about how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. When the air feels cooler and the month ends in “er”, the festive Christmas mood starts creeping into our system. It takes control of our hearts and mind. We look forward in anticipation of the coming holidays visiting friends and families, giving of gifts to godsons and goddaughters, family reunions among others that extends until January 6 which is supposedly the day the “three kings” paid their visit to the infant Jesus.

But I believe Myanmar Christians celebrate Christmas in a more meaningful way. My family and I were surprised to receive an invitation to come to the church last night. We did not know what was the activity but we came anyway. A handful of Burmese Christians were singing Christmas carols and enjoying the fellowship and the quiet enjoyment of informal talks accompanied by laughters in spite of cold breezy wind. In the kitchen, the ladies were cooking something. We really didn't know what was going on and there was nothing special going on and we thought of going home because the night was becoming late and we wanted to get some sleep. But when 12 midnight came, the Pastor stood up and gather us and led us in a solemn moment of worship and prayers.

We learned after the worship, that today Myanmar Christians is celebrating “Sweet December.” Friends and families gather together, eat together and worship and pray together until the morning comes. It's like a Christmas Eve (noche buena in the Philippines) but not quite I guess there are still more to come.

“Sweet December”

Van Biak Thang
Chinland Guardian

(I) Before

In the clear sky blink the stars
And bright is the moon up afar
Quiet is the night in cold zephyr
With only there the dancing crickets

Up the hilltop gather people
Wrapped up in shared blankets
Still their lips shiver as they warble
With the guitar and the cymbal

Those in the house by the fire
Busy as bees making plain teas
And sorting out chaang by each member
Before down wafts the pastor’s sweet voice

Once the Police Bell strikes tinkling
Each and all sings and prays in greeting
Traces of smiles and joys on all faces
Then, comes “Sweet December” wishes

(II) After

The night is quiet and the sky still clear
The moon is bright and the wind still cold
Why no crickets seen in the dancing floor
And the stars stop twinkling, though not old.

Yet there live people on the mountain
But no guitars are meant to entertain
And their lips and limbs shiver in fear
Cos a shared blanket can’t the cold bear

No lights and fire in the quiet house
Busy as a bee is only the preying mouse
And “Where are the chaang?” children whisper
As they snuggle and ease their hunger

Once the Police Bell strikes tinkling
Family in tears and fear sobbing
As each one recalls and prays for those away
Then, the marching sound comes on its way

(Chaang, one of Chin traditional food, is a kind of sticky rice wrapped up in banana leaves)

No comments: