Why Father Christmas Will Wear Face mask During Christmas Celebration
Without any iota of exaggeration, Christmas in Nigeria is a family event where family members come together to celebrate, eat, and have fun. In most urban parts of the country, Christmas Eve is usually celebrated with entertainment of guests that include an artificial Christmas tree, Christmas cards, and fireworks that last all night long.
Following the festivities on Christmas Eve, celebrants, who are majorly affiliated to Christianity head to church to give thanks to God, and gifts are exchanged among family members.
Some families take their children dressed in their new attires to see Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus. As customarily observed in this part of the world, Father Christmas doesn’t sneak into people’s home begging for gifts or seeking for attention. Instead, children are taken to see him at any of the locations where he is stationed to entertain people upon the payment of admittance fee that are easily afforded by those from affluent homes.
In Lagos, for instance, Father Christmas is usually stationed at Malls, Children Playgrounds, Amusement Parks and other public places meant for entertainment. Some notable Pentecostal churches are also known to have stationed Father Christmas in their churches ostensibly to enable children of members have fun during the yuletide season.
Call Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Santa and Santy. If you like call him any name you may prefer. The fact remains that he is traditionally the face of Christmas. However, this gift-bearing Western world import has no doubt found favour with Nigerian children and has become a part of Nigerian Christmas landscape for decades.
It is not certain whether or not Nigerian children buy into the idea of going to any place of fun to see Father Christmas with dozens of toys under the Christmas tree, or any of the other collectables associated with the fairytale of Santa and his elves and reindeer, but they do appreciate it when Santa visits them at school, church, nursery or anywhere else children are found, and where he carries them on his lap, and gift them with treasurable gifts. Whether they come from rich, poor or average family, the gritty circumstances of meeting Santa and having fun with him engenders deafening squeals of delight.
In decades, particularly in Lagos, Father Christmas Parade at any given fun spot was highly anticipated, and looked forward to by children. Event places were cleared of chairs so that Santa’s sleigh could glide around the ambience of wherever he graces during the yuletide. In the western world where the tradition of Santa is deeply rooted, instead of reindeer and elves as usually depicted, he would be accompanied by marching bands, troops of boy scouts and girl guides and floats carrying various beauty queens. Once the procession arrived at its destination, he would greet his host, and some lucky children that highly looked forward to his visit. Then, one by one, hundreds of children would wait in long lines to share their wildest Christmas wishes with Santa as they in turn sat comfortably on his lap.
Of course, during the upcoming Christmas celebration, parading or staging of Father Christmas may not be business as usual, particularly in 2020 due to the prevalence of Covid-19 pandemic that compelled the government to lockdown the economy for months. As been anticipated, if Father Christmas eventually, as a result of the pandemic, discontinued partnering with different organizations that always expect him to offer cheer and a listening ear to children from various socio-economic backgrounds and circumstances, it may no doubt be disappointing to children, and the reason behind it may be problematic for some of them to come to terms with.
It is, no doubt, in the light of the foregoing that my neighbor’s son, Samuel, asked inquisitively, “Daddy Daniel, as Christmas is coming will Father Christmas wear mask?” I must confess at this juncture that I was not in any way rattled by his question as I am abreast with the fact that children are born inquisitive, and it is this curiosity that allows them to learn more about the world through every experience and social interaction. In fact, children like to explore, question, and use their imaginations, and it is this positive cycle of learning that unarguably fueled the happiness they playfully exude at all times, and in the same vein strengthen the fondness that exists between them and anyone that has the time to always attend to their inquisitive disposition.
To his question, I answered him in the affirmative as I gave him a rude shock by telling him that this year will be the first Christmas due to the Covid-19 pandemic when Father Christmas would be wearing face mask. He probed further, “Why”. I patiently continued with my explanation by telling him that Santa is usually an elderly man, and that due to his age that he would be at high risk of contracting coronavirus. With the foregoing fact, I told him he would not be able to sit on his knee peradventure his father or elder sister takes him to see one at Apapa Amusement Park during the upcoming yuletide, and that he may be wearing a face mask or sits behind a screen. He retorted, “Daddy Daniel, it won’t be funny then”. I replied it won’t be funny, indeed.
I explained to him that Father Christmas is a man that will merely adorn his regalia on the day he has a show during the Christmas period, and that he is not immune to Covid-19, even as those that will come in contact with him are equally not immune to the pandemic. In this nexus, it is expedient as the Christmas period approaches that fun seekers should be advised to exercise greater vigilance in limiting their exposure to the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent further spread.
Beyond the conversation in this context, it is expedient to say that everyone is currently looking up to Christmas, they should always have it at the back of their minds that the battle against Covid-19 is not yet over as the government is striving to ensure that the number of positive COVID-19 cases is brought down to the barest minimum. To many observers, there is need to remain in a position of high alert and caution as Nigerians, mostly the Christian population, approaches what is going to be a very busy time of the year – the Christmas season.