Prof. Herbert EzeWednesday, January 11, 2017
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hristmas is the heart of events during Christmas holiday. The later begins a few days before Christmas but extends to the first or second week of the new year, especially in Anambra State.

I have spent my Christmas holiday in Anambra State since I came back from the United States in 2004. This is also my state of origin; I hail from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area. For readers outside Nigeria, Anambra State is one of the 36 States of the country situating at the south-eastern part of the federation.

Christmas holiday is full of many religious and socio- cultural events; the Christmas service is only one of them and holds on the Christmas day. However, all other events, activities and celebrations come under the umbrella of Christmas.

People commonly say that they will carry out such and such meetings or events during Christmas period with specified dates to indicate they do not mean the Christmas day or the mass/service itself.

In Anambra State, when you say a meeting or gathering will hold during Christmas period, this may also include Christmas week and New Year week and a perhaps a week beyond.

I spent Christmas holiday 2016 with my family. Here is what it means from my own personal experience. Our Christmas holiday began with closing at school for the Christmas holiday. In the Nursery/Primary and Secondary Schools, the Christmas holiday ends the first term of the school year. In the tertiary institutions, it may not be the end of a semester but happens in between, as some other national holidays, and school work is resumed later early January.

The Christmas holiday, 2016 began after the first term ended on Friday December 16, for the Nursery/Primary and Secondary Schools and ended with school resumption for the second term on Monday, 9th January, 2017 for those who observe strictly the academic calendar. From my personal experience on tertiary institution, resumption was 4th January 2017 but classes actually began on Monday, 9th January.

With resumptions at school on Monday 9th January, Christmas holiday in my family came to an end. We spent the holiday in my home town in Isuofia, Aguata local government area of Anambra State.

Unlike in previous years, when we were at our home town already before Christmas day, this year because of a wedding engagement, we stayed in Nnewi for the Christmas and travelled after the wedding event which took place on Friday, 30th December.

Our journey began from Uruagu, Nnewi where we reside to my home town. It was on new year day, January 1st 2017. We had our cross- over service combined with the new year worship. The cross- over service began at 11.00 pm (night) followed by the new year service at 12.00 am midnight. When the service was over, we left for home to prepare for our journey.

I drove through Amuko/ Nnobi Road to arrive Nnobi and onwards to Awka - Etiti, Ichida, Igbo- Ukwu and finally reached Isuofia my home town. This journey usually takes 20 minutes without traffic jam or go- slow. However, it took us more time to arrive because of the season with many returnees and others on the road.

After greetings with our kinsmen and women, youth, children and others, we had some rest before beginning a series of visits in our kindred/village which continued until I attended an important meeting on the 4th of January.

The meeting is held by the Ezeifezue family of my kindred, the Ezendu Kindred. It holds annually on the 4th of January. It is last of the kindred meetings held during Christmas period in my place. The first is the Ezendu Kindred Union which holds every 31st of December followed by the Ozalla Village Meeting on 2nd January.

My home town Isuofia is comprised of six villages and each village including the town, itself, has their own dates for holding annual meetings mostly during Christmas period. These meetings are places for formal reading of previous minutes, discussions, reporting and treating of cases, resolving of disputes and refreshments. Disputes may be on land or other matters. Sometimes, the meeting may be rowdy, but at times jovial and festive.

A fight almost broke among two brothers in one of the kindred meetings I attended, but they were separated followed by an uproar of cursing, threats and forceful attempts to carry out the fight by each of them, but they were forcefully separated. True believers in Christ may not find such meetings comfortable to belong, however their presence is needed especially for "salt" witness.

It is interesting that such kindred/village meetings during Christmas give important place to prayers and the Word of God especially at the beginnings. At the Ezeifezue family meeting of January 4, the chairman required that the meeting be started with prayers and prayers were also said at the end.

Spiritual songs, preaching of the Word and prayers were given a big boost in the Ezendu Kindred Union of 31 December and the Ozalla Village Meeting of January 2. The kind of disputes, harsh words and quarrels that later take place sometimes during the meetings do not match with the great spiritual upliftment that sets the meeting off.

I have observed with time that some people come late to these meetings to avoid its spiritual beginnings for reasons they know best. This habit is so strong in them that they may prefer each time to pay the fine for lateness than to come at the beginning when spiritual activities are on.

My suspicion about them is dual allegiance as it is so called or Christo-paganism. The meaning is that though they answer Christians their true allegiance is to the demons they serve secretly. Such demons would not stand the heat of Holy Ghost power-preaching or prayers during those ministrations at the early part of the meeting. The power of their charms may be nullified or adversely affected.

A case of land dispute in the Ezeifezue family meeting of Ezendu Kindred led to the formation of a five-man panel sent out to investigate the matter and present report. This was done and their report was utilized accordingly. A disturbing case in the same Ezeifezue family between the Chairman of the meeting and one of his sons made the chairman vacate his seat for the vice-chairman to treat the matter. There was also eating and drinking near the end of the meeting. Such drinks and food were gifts from members of the meeting who donated variously during the occasion at will.

Other events at this Christmas period take the form of traditional weddings, church weddings and gatherings in smaller families for discussions, merriments, etc. Masquerades also move around the roads and sometimes into people's houses to show face, harass young people and collect money perhaps in the name of Christmas festivity.

Commercials and transporters hustle to collect as much money to enrich themselves during this period. Apart from church service with preaching on the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior on Christmas day, it appears that during the so called Christmas season, many folks seem to forget or perhaps ignore that Christ is the reason for the season.