45. ‘Tis the season…’: a magical moonlight swim on Christmas Eve

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ No, they don’t! Christmas is a low-key event in Bangladesh. The longest newspaper article that I found on Christmas celebrations here is from 2006. It is interesting in that it contrasts previous Christmases with the one of 2006, when the security situation in Bangladesh somewhat curtailed celebrations.

VSO arranged a Christmas dinner for volunteers in the Bagha Club (see post 10) on the 23rd. We actually had turkey and all the trimmings, as well as fish and chicken. While there was no dessert, I enjoyed the plentiful and tasty food. There was a present-giving ceremony too: I got a small, wooden, carved jewellery box. A lovely surprise!

I worked on Christmas Eve. Although Christmas Day is a national holiday, it also happened to fall on a Friday this year, so it was even more unnoticed than usual. (Friday is the ‘holy’ day and we don’t work anyway.) Nobody in my workplace passed any remark on Christmas. After work on Christmas Eve, I went to an eerily quiet Bagha Club. I was the only person there. Following an exchange of greetings with family by e-mail, I had a leisurely swim in the dark. Floating peacefully, lost in thought, under a moonlit, starry sky was magical. The trees around the pool were softly lit with hundreds of tiny, coloured fairy-lights (from earlier festivities). It was a unique, solitary and reflective Christmas Eve, and one that I will remember.


The Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Farmgate. Inscription cites 1677 as the founding date. However many believe the church was built earlier – 16th century –by the Augustinian Fathers.


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