Nativity scene

Christmas in Macau, Mozambique and Austria

Devotion, tolerance and affection

PEDRO DANIEL OLIVEIRA
pedrodanielhk@hotmail.com

When he was a child, the parents of José Chan, current Director of three Catholic confraternities, took him along with his siblings to Macau Cathedral, to St. Anthony’s Church or to St. Dominic’s Church, in order to attend the dawn Mass (literally called the “Mass of the Rooster”).

“We usually went to St. Dominic’s Church because my father was born in this area and my uncle took care of this Church. There was also my friend Francisco do Rosário and my godfather Francisco Sales Poupinho, secretary of two Catholic confraternities, who taught me to work at the Catholic mission,” recalled José Chan, Director of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, the Confraternity of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos (devoted to the Way of the Cross) and the Confraternity of St. Anthony.

In Mr Chan’s also reminisces the moments where he, his father and a few siblings delivered O CLARIM special edition for Christmas in the whereabouts of the Macau Cathedral, St Lawrence’s Church and St Lazarus’s Church, as well as the devotion of the Macanese families for this religious season.

In Mozambique where the former Radio Macau Producer and Director of its Portuguese channel Helder Fernando from his childhood until he turned 29, a substantial part of the population was Muslim and wouldn’t even celebrate Christmas as a cultural event.

“This fact did not prevent Muslims wishing Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas to other fellow citizens,” stated Mr Fernando. “I remember one day that one of the Muslim families of my relations opened a room at her house and showed me with a quiet smile a nativity scene done in stone, clay and wood figures, handmade by the younger brothers, who were my classmates and adventure fellows, with whom I would chat late into the night.”

“The moment I looked at the crib, on the top of a mat, I realized that this Islamic family had it built for me, who had no crib at home,” remembered Mr Fernando. “Practicing multiculturalism freely only brings advantages, even when carried out as a possible getaway to the dictatorship of one opinion, whether political, religious or any other tradition,” he assured.

Leaving the hot weather in Mozambique and turning to snowy Austria, the Christmas season would be quite different for Father Franz Gassner, assistant Professor in the Faculty for Christian Studies at the University of Saint Joseph.

“At my Austrian home, on Christmas Eve the family assembled at 6:00 PM to bring incense and Holy Water to every room of the house. We started at the kitchen oven, and the father or eldest son would carry the incense, along with my mother and other children carried either Holy Water in a mug and with a twig, or a lantern to light the way, because all electric lights had to be turned off during that time,” recalled Father Gassner of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).

“We even visited our livestock animals in the stable and blessed them with incense and Holy Water. When we returned from this incense tour, we entered the room with the Christmas tree and the presents, but only just to have a short look, because first we had to pray the Rosary together.”

“After this experience of delayed gratification, we sang before the Christmas tree and the presents could finally be unwrapped, followed by the Christmas meal among the family. Later, before midnight, we walked to our parish Church to attend the Midnight Christ Mass. Journeying together with lantern through the snowy night is an unforgettable Christmas experience,” he reminisced.

Graphic from http://intrumpet.com/pentecostalhistory/the-birth-of-the-nativity-scene/.

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