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Reflections on changing Christmas traditions in Dubai

Veteran worshippers at St Mary's Catholic Church remember a simpler time.

Veteran worshippers at St Mary’s Catholic Church remember a simpler time.

Witnessing Transformations

Emolyn Bucsit and Joseph James, longstanding parishioners of Dubai’s historic St Mary’s Catholic Church, reminisce on the evolution of Christmas celebrations over the years. 

With decades of attendance at the church’s festive services, they’ve observed a significant transformation in the Christmas spirit.

A Time of Simplicity

Both Emolyn Bucsit and 72-year-old Joseph James vividly recall a time when Christmas in Dubai was more modest and confined within the church walls. James, arriving from India in 1977, reminisces about a simpler era where the church was the primary locus for Christmas festivities.

A Contrast in Celebrations

James reflects on the past when the celebration was limited within the church, devoid of external decorations or acknowledgments by FM radio stations. The town’s landscape was marked by minimal landmarks – Deira’s Clock Tower and the yet-to-open Dubai World Trade Centre.

Intriguing Contrasts

Unlike the elaborate external displays seen today, James recalls a time when there were no external Christmas trees or festive adornments. However, within the church, the presence of a crib captured the essence of the celebration, offering solace and the true spirit of Christmas.

Their reflections offer a fascinating insight into the evolution of Christmas traditions at St Mary’s Catholic Church, emphasizing the shift from modest, intimate celebrations within the church to the grand, bustling gatherings witnessed today.

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