Blessed are we

EVERYONE is still in a festive mood despite this being a working week. And the mood is reflected in people working in various establishments and offices across the country. They still greet each other with “Merry Christmas” but add “and a Happy New Year” especially when they visit friends’ Christmas open houses for lunch. Of course these few days are the typical go slow days of the last week of every December, especially when they are sandwiched between two long weekends. Many people are on leave the whole week or from a few days before Christmas and are coming back to work only in January after celebrating New Year’s Day.

Thus it makes sense why in some countries businesses are shut down during the last week of December. In Malaysia, this tradition of long Christmas holidays and year-end festivities began a long time ago when the country was under British colonial rule. It has not changed much eventhough the colonialists have gone and Christians form just about 9% of the population. Christmas is still a significant national festival like Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Tadau Kaamatan and Gawai. In fact its significance goes beyond the number of Christians in the country. Throughout December, for instance, most shopping complexes are gaily decorated with Christmas trees, mistletoe and“snow”, and everyone shops to the strains of such traditional delights as Silent Night, Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.

And on Christmas eve, the churches are packed with worshippers praying for their wellbeing and that of multiracial Malaysia, a prayer all Malaysians regardless of religion should say amen to. Generally, there is a great deal of tolerance, acceptance and respect for one another among the multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious population. In sensitive and emotional matters, except for the occasional aberrations, everyone has managed to recognise them as such as had been agreed upon by the founders of the nation and stressed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak many times.

Still there is no denying that we have lived in harmony during most of the years that we have existed as a nation. We must be grateful for this blessing. Indeed we should consider ourselves more blessed in light of the bomb explosions near Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Christmas Day which killed about 30 people. Thus we cannot be satisfied with things as they are now. We need to build on the foundation our founding fathers established. It is our duty, the duty of all Malaysians.