Thursday, December 25, 2014
Keeping Christ in Christmas
Every year Christians, and many others, celebrate Christmas. Christians will of course celebrate it as the birth of their saviour, Jesus Christ. This may mean going to mass or a church service in which they can remember and be thankful for God sending his only begotten Son to redeem the world. Jesus was a gift of love bringing a message of peace and joy to the world. He commanded we love God and each other, that we care for the poor and the widow, the homeless and the stranger in the land.
Christian or not, the Christmas celebration generally entails giving gifts and gorging food and drink. It is usually a time for families to catch up and, hopefully, enjoy partying with each other. It's a great time.
Some Christians will be quite forceful in their insistence that Jesus is the reason for the season. Certainly, if we're going to call it Christmas, then yes, He is the reason it is called that. Christmas however, was originally a pagan festival known as Saturnalia in which people partied like there was no tomorrow. Not unlike modern Christmas parties.
As a poster-child for Christmas, Jesus has competition. Put up a photo of Jesus or Santa and its likely most people will associate Santa with Christmas. Spoiler alert for those who believe in Santa: there actually is no jolly fat-man screaming around the world at light speed in a one-horse open sleigh dropping gifts down chimneys.
Funnily enough, many Christians embrace Santa and maintain the myth for their children. There are those who say that pretending to be Santa only teaches children that it's ok to lie. There are other more hard core Christians who say that Santa is an anagram of Satan. ok .... The truth is that there actually was a real Santa. He was St Nicholas (or Nikolaos of Myra). He was a Greek bishop in what is now Turkey and he used to give gifts to the poor and needy. This is somewhat different to the caricature that Santa has become who generally gives expensive and unnecessary gifts to wealthy kids, while those who can't afford such lavish gifts may feel inferior if they can't provide their children with such expensive toys.
The spirit of Christmas is expressed in platitudes such as 'Peace and Goodwill to all'. Christmas is a time for giving and a time for celebrating with family and friends. It is a great time to take the opportunity to truly show this spirit to others, to those less fortunate than ourselves.
The spirit of Christmas, that of love, goodwill and peace, has been usurped and exploited by capitalism. The fruits of capitalism are greed, gluttony, poverty, homelessness, war: all the things that the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill is not. All the things Jesus preached against. This is the real war on Christmas.
Yes, spend time with family and friends, give to each other, but don't forget those who are suffering. Wish each other Merry Christmas, Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays, whatever floats your boat.
Many people get upset over the greetings used. For instance, they'll argue it is CHRIST-mas, not X-mas. But way back in the day, X was from the Greek letter chi, which was the first letter of the word Χριστός, which is Greek for Christ. Christrians used X when referring to Christ. Xmas/Christmas? Same thing.
Some are upset about those who say the sanitised 'happy holidays' instead of the more Christian greeting of 'merry Christmas'. Does it really matter? It is Christmas. It is a holiday for the privileged, however, poverty, homelessness, war, persecution do not take holidays and neither do their victims. If you're upset about 'happy holidays', what are you doing to help those who suffer?
It's easy to care about semantics, not so easy to care about people. It's easy to take action against words, not so easy to take action against poverty and persecution.
To keep the true spirit of Christmas alive, to truly celebrate Christ, rather than indulging in capitalistic pursuits that exploit the poor and persecuted, give your time and money to those who have no-one and nothing.
Much of the western world was founded on the exploitation of less developed nations and the funding of war and persecution for the sake of western imperialism and capitalist expansion. When the victims flee to the West for protection, many of the same people who want Christ kept in Christmas, who sing of peace and goodwill to all, then shun them, demonise them and persecute them all over again.
Stop worrying about the 'war on Christmas' and worry about real war and its victims. In fact, stop supporting and sponsoring war whether its in the name of democracy, freedom, Zionism, anti-terrorism, anti-drugs. All wars have victims and consequences. If we create victims, we should take responsibility for their welfare and protection.
Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Then live as Christ commanded: love all through word and deed, and care for the poor, the downtrodden, the persecuted.