A beautiful Christmas message
Our Dubai Christmas tradition is attending the midnight service at Holy Trinity Church on Christmas Eve. One year, there were so many cars in the limited space around the church, we came out from the church at 1am to find our car completely boxed in. A dilemma faced by most of the church goers.
With tired, sleepy children in tow, it looked like a nightmare wait while the situation gradually resolved itself.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, white glowing figures appeared in the headlights. Silently and swiftly they lifted, yes, lifted cars with their bare hands and moved them out of the way. Then they formed a chain, efficiently directing traffic and magically enabling all of us to drive away in minutes, still retaining some of the post-service peaceful glow!
As we passed them, the children waved thank you to them. And the true spirit of Christmas was reflected in the warm and cheerful smiles beamed back at them by our Christmas angels that night – the taxi drivers and workers in white Pathan suits - traditional Pakistani attire.
Not a word was exchanged, but it was the best Christmas message I ever got. Of peace on Earth and goodwill to all.
From Ms Bina Mathews
No place like home
In the far province where I raised my children, in an unadorned old ancestral house is always our venue of celebration. Simple food during Noche Buena (December 24) is always the highlight of celebration. Then exchanging gifts with the eldest members of our big family. There really is no place like home.
From Ms Corazon Tarcena
Believing in yourself
One of the experiences and traditions I cannot forget during Christmas was when I was eight years old, 15 days before Christmas. As children, we gather a group together and go from one house to the next and sing Christmas carols to be able to put the money together and buy ourselves gifts. Each person in the group would bring musical instruments either homemade or bought from shops like drums, maracas and others, but since I didn’t have any instrument and no one wanted to take me, I decided to make maracas from soda bottle caps and decided to go on my own singing Christmas carols from one house to the next. Most of the families that gave me gifts were wondering why I was all alone. At the end of the week, my friends and I compared what we earned, and I had the largest amount of savings. I learnt a wonderful lesson that if no one believes in your capacity, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
From Mr Albert Gayo
An extra special time
In the Christmas of 2011 (and I never thought the incident would happen in my life) I met the love of my life in the UAE. Our love blossomed in the Christmas spirit at the Christmas tree at Dubai Festival City and we had a picture perfect moment next to the giant tree. Coincidentally, we got married at Christmas three year later. That’s not even all the good news, as our baby was born last Christmas! We have been overjoyed with special moments of our Christmas’ in the UAE.
From Mr Jos Cardozo
Believing in Santa
Though I am a Muslim, Christmas is one of my favourite festivals of the year. The joy and zest with which this time is celebrated is contagious. I always make a point to watch at least one Christmas movie every year on Christmas Day. Going around and seeing the Christmas decor is one of my favourite things to do as well. My favourite memory of Christmas would be of Santa Claus and believing in him completely when I was a child. My unfulfilled dream is to visit Finland and Iceland during Christmas and getting a chance to meet Santa while getting to ride on a sleigh.
From Ms Zainab Das
In 2007 when I was first employed at my present company in the UAE, I had to leave my home country for the first time, leaving my family on November 15. Yes, it was a few weeks before Christmas, which made it more difficult.
It was my first Christmas away from home that I miss the Simbang Gabi, also known as Morning Mass. It’s a nine-day novena for the Blessed Mother that begins on December 16 at 4am in the nearby Catholic Church that I would go to with my family. This culminates with the midnight mass celebrated December 24 to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ followed by the Noche Buena, which is a traditional family dinner on Christmas Eve with family members and loved ones eating together with the most delicious food prepared by family members and sometimes gifts from closest friends.
Nevertheless, after nine years of working in Dubai, it’s a memory of Christmas with family that has now been made possible by the company I’ve been with.
From Ms Ma Teresa Sanchez Edpan
Being with family
Many think that Christmas is merely about giving and receiving gifts. The best Christmas experience for me has been celebrating the season with my loved ones. Praying and eating together, singing, spending the whole day and night with them and giving and opening gifts. It always makes me so happy to see the people who received the gifts I wrapped for them. I’m so blessed.
From Ms Roxan Bolusan
The good old days
Christmas is celebrated all over the world with great fervour and gaiety and brings with it real joy and happiness to many and renewed hope, healing and strength to the less fortunate. In Pakistan, December 25 is a public holiday because of two great events that are celebrated on that day by Muslims and Christians alike. It is the birthday of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and also the birth of Jesus Christ [PBUH].
For me Christmas brings back fond memories of my early childhood spent in Karachi, Pakistan. On Christmas eve the streets of my neighbourhood would come alive with the sound of children and even adults as they went from house to house carrying colourful lanterns and singing carols like Silent Night, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and, of course, Jingle Bells. Some carollers would even ride on camel carts singing popular hymns on Christmas morning, a band of four or five people carrying musical instruments would come down the road playing popular tunes. I remember the crackers and Christmas cake that we used to get at the nearby bakery and enjoyed eating. Those were the good old days.
However, my most unforgettable memory of Christmas dates back to December 25, 2002, the year my eldest son got married in Lahore, Pakistan. It was such a fun-filled, joyous and happy occasion for me and my family and one that I cherish the most.
From Ms Umbereen Rahman
Memories in UAE
Christmas has always been a delightful memory for me in the UAE. The mix of cultures and traditions was something I looked forward to at that time of the year. The malls being decorated on Christmas with trees, snowflakes, snow machines pouring out snow, the smell of plum cakes at some of the themed restaurants. The UAE has always given me memories to cherish this time of the year. Merry Christmas!
From Ms Lekshmi Jagan
All the traditions
There is so much joy and happiness all around this festive season! I am a Hindu who married a Catholic, and although I was aware of Christmas, I was totally unaware of the traditions.
My husband would bake a cake some seven to 10 days ahead of Christmas. He cuts up all dry fruits to perfection and bakes the cake. The entire house will be filled with the aroma of freshly baked cake and macaroons and no one, including my three young children, are allowed to taste it until Christmas day!
All Christmas gifts are kept under the tree and my children are so anxious, they check the gifts and at times tear the gift wrapping a little to see what’s inside. Then my husband will seal it back up with tape. Their eagerness is building up every day.
The tradition was after we returned from midnight mass, when he cuts the cake, brings it on a well decorated tray and then we taste the cake. The children are then allowed to open their gifts, eat goodies like rose cookies, kalkals and macaroons. They will be so tired after midnight mass, but the excitement of opening their gifts keeps them going before they crash in bed with a smile.
From Ms Priti Mackinnon
A time for giving
Gifts, carols, bells, Santa Claus and cakes all remind me of Christmas. Christmas brings one back to home! My favourite Christmas celebrations used to be back home in India. There were many poor people whom we used to give money, food and clothes every Christmas morning. Mother used to dress me up in a lovely red frock to be ready for church. The mesmerising food stalls, games and swings outside the church were every child’s favourite. Exchange of gifts and cakes was the much awaited moment. I can still hear my mother singing carols to me! Mother is in heaven now and I am sure this year she will personally celebrate this day with Jesus Christ [PBUH], whose birthday we celebrate on this day every year! Celebrate love, peace and happiness this Christmas.
From Ms Anupriya Dayal
Celebrating all festivities
Growing up and living my childhood in Guildford, UK and having open-minded parents, I am privileged to have grown up knowing and respecting all religions and cultures. Every Christmas memory is a wonderful one for us. I am now married with a gorgeous little princess named Leila who is four years old, and I have a four month old little prince named Jude. Although we are Muslims, we do have a Christmas tree up at home and make sure the children leave a biscuit out for Santa. We believe this is very important for our children’s education, to grow up learning about, respecting and sharing the happy celebrations with their friends like we have done. Be it Christmas, Diwali or many others. The wonderful thing about living in the UAE are the schools that our children go to also do tremendous work in promoting this understanding and respecting other cultures and religions. In fact, we host a lovely gathering for friends and family during this festive time, and I make a great turkey for all to enjoy every year. I wish to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
From Mr Hayder Al Zuhairi
Carols, food and family
Personally, I just love this time of year. Christmas is my absolute favourite. Having been in the UAE for over 40 years now, I have had the opportunity to enjoy this season in the best possible way. My Christmas memories include listening to carols, baking and eating scrumptious meals, being with family and enjoying everything that Dubai offers.
From Ms Rekha Pramod
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