Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas in...

...Bethlehem for the Christians
Sadly this kind of article is an annual feature:
Fifty-year-old Mr al Soos is the third generation of his family to farm and butcher pigs. His grandfather started the business, selling pork to British troops stationed in Palestine during the 1930s, and its current status as the only pork butchery in the territories makes it a valuable place to gauge the plight of the Holy Land's dwindling Christian minority.
The issue will be in the headlines later this week, when Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, lead a joint delegation to Bethlehem to express solidarity with their beleaguered brethren.
No member of the local Muslim majority would dare enter Mr al Soos's shop, allowing him to be candid in his assessment as he thwacked a cleaver into a wooden chopping board covered with gore.
"It's not as if there is a single thing like this cleaver that cuts us Christians down," he said as he bagged up pork chops for a regular Christian customer. "It's more like a slow, steady pressure, which is slowly killing us off." In the run-up to Christmas, the once large Catholic community could have been expected to buy large amounts of pork for meals and celebrations. This year, he estimated, business was down by two thirds compared with a decade ago.
Bernard Bassil, 50, a water engineer and regular customer at the butchery, likened it to a slow, steady suffocation. "With the problems from the economy where Palestinians don't get any money from the government, there are no jobs to go round. And we know that, if a job becomes available, it will go to a Muslim, not a Christian." He said tension between the Christian minority and Muslim majority is a daily feature of life. It rarely flares into violence or spectacular acts of cruelty, but it steadily corrodes the quality of life enjoyed by Christians.

(Picture of prayers in the Grotto in Bethlehem)
The Japanese have their own take on Christmas:
Get yourself a wonderful boyfriend by Christmas; Best Christmas date spots; Christmas for lovers – the magazine headlines tell the story: all a Japanese girl wants for Christmas is the perfect date.
In a country where less than one per cent of the population is Christian, Christmas has been reinvented as the most romantic time of the year.
For many Japanese women being taken to an expensive restaurant on Christmas Eve is a crucial indicator of success, while having to go shopping with female friends marks one as a "loser dog", the Japanese equivalent of a Bridget Jones singleton.
Hymns and Christmas classics are played everywhere from gymnasiums to neighbourhood shopping streets.
Overtly Christian imagery is widespread and people greet each other with "Merry Christmas" rather than the more politically correct "season's greetings".

1 comment:

michigancatholic said...


One can only hope at least one of them stops to think about it someday.