Literatus: More days of Christmas in a time of pandemic

Zosimo T. Literatus
·2 min read

FOR the families of those who fell from the onslaughts of Covid-19 virus, the ongoing pandemic can be as stressful an event as major disasters, such as super typhoons, Richter 9 earthquakes, and even world wars. The death toll in the Philippines is just too high, like in other countries.

Sustained stress has negative outcomes on mental health. That is so even among religious individuals. Mental health literature knows the value of positive religious coping in reducing stress-related mental disturbance, such as anxiety, depression and even psychopathology.

A study among Christians and Muslims in the United Arab Emirates reported that Muslims seemed to be more resilient than Christians against Covid-19 pandemic stress, associated with social distancing, restricted travel, quarantine and curfew.

Researchers Justin Thomas and Mariapaola Barbaoto at Zayed University’s College of Natural and Health Sciences in Abu Dhabi observed that Muslims had “higher levels of religious coping” than Christians. The study involved 339 Muslims and 204 Christians.

While the researchers covered some important limitations in their study, a crucial confounding factor was unfortunately missed: Christians, including those participating in the study, are living outside their original communities, as foreigners or expatriates.

In a sense, they were isolated in a country that is predominantly non-Christian, which is a source of significant distress. If the danger of Covid-19 is added into the mix of stressors, these Christians are expected to suffer more stress than the Muslim participants who live among their own people.

That alone can make a huge difference in their religious coping ability.

However, among us Christians in a dominantly Christian country, we are among our own people. Thus, our Covid-19 “religious coping” ability is at its highest.

That is something to remind us in this Christmas Season, which starts on Dec. 26 instead of ending on Dec. 25. By the way, the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas,” in Catholic tradition, begins on Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 6 (Feast of the Epiphany). It does not end on Christmas Day.

This means that our Christmas festivities begin on Christmas Day and end on Epiphany.

Rejoice! We still have more days to be festive—more consolation for the Lord’s coming as a vulnerable child... more fun times with our family... more reasons to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit... O Come, O Come Emmanuel!