As Christians the world over commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ today, we join world leaders and other people to congratulate them on this auspicious moment of celebration of love, peace and joy. Without doubt, Christmas will continue to inspire, motivate and give hope and joy to all Christians and, indeed, all humanity. Although the birth of Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Gods promise to send a Saviour to atone for the sins of the world, the story of His conception, birth and heavenly signs remain some of the most wonderful tales of the Bible which have continued to be a source of inspiration to many through the ages.
The result has been that Christmas has become an annual global celebration, far beyond Christendom. The feast has also become remarkable for its commercial as well as its cultural and religious significance.
In a frightful year, which the year 2020 has turned out to be, dominated by the ravenous COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas provides a reassurance that after the long, dark season of the plague, deaths and the dread, there is hope.
The year 2020 is not what humanity had hoped for at the end of last year. It sneaked upon us like a thief in the dark, and it has kept the world terrified and sickened from its beginning to its end. There was no let up. Indeed, as the year approaches its end, the second wave of the pandemic not only quickened a resurgence of the virus, the British variant accelerated its transmissibility leading to an almost total quarantine of the United Kingdom in the last two weeks.
It is, therefore, to be expected that this year’s Christmas may not come with the usual frills, excitement, decorations and exuberance and a great deal of merchandising. The pandemic not only sickened some people, it has left the economy of most countries prostrate, leading to hunger and increased poverty, even in the affluent economies. The only light at the end of the tunnel has been the invention of vaccines to inoculate against the virus.
The world now seems to place all its hope for eventual reprieve from the pandemic on the vaccines which, hopefully, would get to all parts of the world, in the middle of next year. Barring any mishap, therefore, the world hopes to celebrate the end of the pandemic by the end of 2021.
Thus, the repeated caution by many world leaders to their citizens to tone down their celebrations, stay at home, keep social distance and avoid crowds must be seen as necessary words of advice and caution, knowing that the so-called “super-spreaders” of the virus were brought about by the temptation to indulge and to lower our guards, leading to avoidable loss of lives. Christmas is, traditionally, a happy occasion and the tendency to over-indulge is always a temptation which must be resisted. We recall that the great spike in US infections followed the Thanksgiving feasting.
Not less is expected after the Yuletide unless extreme caution is exercised. The Presidential Task Force has been prudent in its directives and Nigerians are advised to strictly follow its guidance. While we must not lose sight of the essence of Christmas, including showing love and taking care of the less privileged, we must also share the joy of the occasion with our neighbours and compatriots.
Christmas is a time to pray for the peace and unity and safety of our country, Nigeria. We appeal to all Nigerians to temper their activities and celebrate in moderation during this Yuletide so as to be in a position to enjoy the next one. We hope that given the gradual availability of vaccines, we are certain that in a short while, the pandemic would soon be a thing of the past. After nearly a year in which the dangers of the virus have become fairly well known, we think it is appropriate to use all safety precautions to mitigate the effects of the virus.
And now that there is a vaccine, all hands must be on deck to ensure that COVID-19 does not claim any more lives. We wish the Christian faithful and our esteemed readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.