Only God knows why these months are unique, peculiar, particularistic and “one kind”. Even though the other eight months do not have same characteristics with the Ember months but there are some little variations. However, a great number of people look forward to Ember month for variety of reasons. One obvious reason is that it is business-sensitive and full of hustling and bustling. Some people believe that if they can’t make it at the ember months they can’t prepare for the other year. All social and spiritual realities are congealed into one.
We know that each of the months speaks to us in our daily struggles. The month of rainy season takes its toll on us but they have to obey the natural laws and farmers need rain to grow their crops and harvest them for festive seasons, each season has its economic values. The rainy season of this year created a lot of havocs, swept many people away into the lagoon because of lack of drainage systems. One thing that is common to all the months is that they are not free from misery, misfortune and hardship.
Man complains of the monotonous rain and a drag in business but one man’s meat is another man’spoison. But complaining cannot change things. That is the way God plans his world. Towards the middle of August the excitement of Ember months takes hold of us but not that they do not have its ups and downs. Entering Ember months, gives us hope. Its sunshine energizes us into what we will do for the rest of the remaining months that are full of social expectations. The Ember months are months of high expectations, planning and planning.
They are months man hits the road to solve the problems and exigencies of life. These months give man extra oxygen to move around and gather what to spend at the queen of the ember months; December. These months go fast. They are stress ridden but man copes well knowing what lies ahead. At this time, man is time-sensitive. October, being one of the ember months is the month of our Lady in catholic calendar. It is the month of our catholic devotion.
The first of October is very vital to Nigeria, a year of their independence from their colonial master; Britain. Mary was pronounced by Nigerian conference of bishops as queen of Nigeria. In these ember months anxieties are high especially on business men and women as well as the poor. These are the months where everybody wants to make it by all means. They are the months of rat race. Christian ethics at this time is not even remembered.
Competition is high in the ember months December being the queen of the months, the amazing month where the saviour of mankind was born. 25th of December becomes a Centre of all events. The thought of Christmas is in all the hearts of people, Christmas may be far away and its spiritual stimulus vibrates in all people but commercialism coupled with Christmas season could be visible through advertising posters, shops, offices that are decorated. The air is dominated with Christmas spirit. The media, the acclaimed possessors of divine knowledge begins to create feelings of Christmas in people. All is to sharpen their consumption pattern to buy and buy. The spiritual feast now becomes a social event where even non-Christians join in celebrating it. No one is left out!
People run into great debts during Christmas. Christmas is not a show season, not a carnival celebration unfortunately all events are congealed into Christmas for example house warming, weddings, age group meetings, business meetings etc. and so all these social realities are congealed into one reality.
A great number of people do have hang-overs during the season because they made Christmas a month of competition, going home with flashy cars. Politicians buy the latest brands of cars to attend social town hall meetings and give peanuts to those who voted them to power in their communities to retain their loyalties. The effects of Christmas linger for a long time even though January the new year supposed to be a year of meeting New Year resolutions but it has become a dust-bin of all the problems incurred during the Ember months.
In January, you can never find a man with an unfinished business accruing from the ember months. Man slows down to gather himself again to start life seriously. Most people even lose their jobs due to their inability to come back in time after exhausting their earnings in the Christmas excitement with no transport fares to return to work. The excitements of the ember months especially Christmas has its own drawbacks. The social constructs around Christmas create untold harms on those that cannot control their spending and man pays for it in January.
Christmas in the Eastern part of Nigeria is another narrative. Lagos is usually empty because all roads would lead to the East. The Easterners have their own ambience of celebrating Christmas. Some parts of the East celebrate Christmas every market day until January. All those coming home add color to the village environs which helps to deepen relationships with one another.
However the economic hardship of this year imposed on us diminishes our great celebration. The borders are closed and the most popular food for Christmas; Rice and Chicken etc are no longer within the reach of the pockets.
The season makes man to reflect seriously on the proper use of his wealth. Instead of focusing on the spirituality of Christmas man creates his own social events. After all the man born in Bethlehem is a simple man and has shown us the way to celebrate him instead we celebrate ourselves. Man must be careful not to be carried away by the events he has created around Christmas that would bring later regrets. Though it is good to celebrate at the end of the year after struggling, experiencing pains and disappointments but it should be done in a way that would not disturb our equilibrium and focus in life.
Very Rev. Msgr Ukah, Parish Priest, Saint Kizito Catholic Church Alaba-Oro Lagos