By Kevin Stoda
As I sit in my office on the Eve of Christmas this year, I listen to music wafting in from the laptop of a Persian colleague. Downstairs wafting through the hallways is the smell of incense. I observed one of the guards placing the frankincense, for which this region of the world is so famous, on the thin strips of charcoal in a simple incense carrier.
There is a sense of holiday joy and anticipation as all the staff wait to find out whether they will be allowed to stay home on Christmas day again this year.  The malls and hospital entrances have artificial Christmas trees. There are instrumental Christmas tunes played in some of the malls, too. We have even observed nativity scene in one mall.
There are cool temperatures at night bring a very relaxing sense of calm to our mornings here in the oasis, Salalah, situated here in the desert by the sea. I really love to get out and walk in such weather, especially under the palm trees.
I work at a college and in order to get Christmas Day off, we professors need to log in this morning and type in all student grades on a program called ORACLE. We will have be like Santa Clause and check our lists (and grades) and check them twice--noting who was nice. If this is done by the time we leave today, we may get permission to stay home with our families.
Interestingly, in antiquity, an ORACLE was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or one undertaking prophetic predictions or precognition of the future. In other words, I am have to contact oracles today. Such ORACLES were like the so-called three magi , who visited baby Jesus at his birth. These wise men purportedly came from Persia and possibly points further east. However, since one of the magi brought frankincense in abundance, perhaps he was from or had great connection to the local Salalah area's frankincense trade.
So far, this morning, my ORACLE has not worked. In short, my computer is not consulting me nor allowing me consultation. I hope Herod does not intervene before I get home this Christmas Eve.
 Oman is rather tolerant and some institutions have often allowed Christians to take off Christmas day. (Naturally, this is not true of all institutions and it is not a law, like in Egypt.)
 Concerning the roots of the term magi, "Greek mÃ¡gos, "Magian" or "magician," was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek go-"s(Î³ÏÎ·Ï), the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean" "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic". --Wikipedia (source)