Another year is about to finish which means I have just lived through another Christmas season and once more experienced Christmas Day. Growing up, Christmas was all about decorated trees, presents, Santa Claus, and snow infested movies on television – a White Christmas is still a very foreign concept to me and something us Southern antipodeans associate with Hollywood or our European ancestors. To many people nothing has changed and it’s still about all those things but for me things have definitely changed (more about that later).
Christmas is painted as the time of year when everyone is happy, everyone is over-generous and people are all too forgiving. It’s basically just a jolly good ole time! To some it’s eating and drinking, to others giving of one’s self and time, to most it means spending time with family, and many celebrate it as a religious day of remembrance. Whichever way you celebrate it, your right to do so normally lies pretty close to your heart and people seem to get pretty touchy about how this tradition plays out in their family homes and broader surroundings even. I have noticed this from the wide range of opinions people have on Christmas and how and why we ought to celebrate it. I never knew it was such a big deal to so many people and possibly only realised it more recently since I grew a strong opinion on the matter myself.
Growing up I was under the impression that Christmas was a straightforward religious festival celebrating the incarnation and birth of the Saviour of the world according to Christian belief. The tradition was so strong in my culture that no one questioned the fact that the Saviour played a relatively minor role in the whole deal. It was only more recently that I discovered that the universal theme of the celebration was rather a mixture of Christianity as a religion and other ancient pagan religions and festivities.
Seeing that this is the case there are now members of the various parties attempting to claim this infamous day as their own or on the other hand, totally exclude themselves from it. Non-Christians (atheists and those opposed to claims of Jesus as Saviour as true and good) who wish to celebrate the holiday without the mention of Jesus as Saviour would highlight the pagan roots of the festival in their argument while many who come from a traditional Christian background argue that the gospel theme is very necessary in the celebrations.
I, as a Christian, wish not to make too much of this global holiday – yet another alternative position many take on Christmas – and this has caused some mild friction in my home before but as a family we are now less amped about the whole thing even though we still differ on the matter at times. Personally, I have no issues with people getting together to enjoy a good meal with wine and having a good time, and neither does it bother me that Christians use this opportunity to communicate the most welcome message ever to reach earth. What I find difficult to get my head around however is that so many Christians insist on erecting various idols from non-Christian religions in their houses as part of their attempt to bring honour and glory to Christ Jesus whom they believe is the Saviour of the world, especially taking into account the fact that Jesus himself is greatly opposed to such behaviour. Further, I struggle to make peace with the fact that Christians are so adamant about what they would call the celebration of Jesus’ birth on a random day in December while they couldn’t care less about the life He called His followers to on any other day of the year. Jesus himself was adamant about the fact that His followers ought to lay down their ways and traditions (should it come down to that) and get baptised while never as much as hinted to the fact that His birth should be celebrated by anyone, yet we are more concerned about doing Christmas than getting baptised for instance – I just don’t see the logic in all this!
My view on Christmas is thus as follow: to those not believing in an authoritative god figure, do as thou wilt; to anyone seeking to honour and worship a god figure, see that your actions are aligned with what your understanding of that god and his will are; to Christians with the strong urge to celebrate Jesus’ birth for whichever reason it may be, do so in a God honouring way at least and use it as an opportunity to engage the world through one of their traditions in order to communicate the gospel to them.
Some informative video snaps on Christmas and how the public views it can be watched here.