Just few days ago, a big part of humanity celebrated Christmas. As for me, I am confused. I delayed the writing of this article as I desired to observe – at first – how humanity celebrates Christmas. I observed through my inner world, through my friends, through the mass media, through the community I live in. I was and still I am confused!
Christmas in Greek is Christougenna = Christou + genna (Χριστουγεννα = Χριστου + γεννα = Christ’s + Birth), so its pure translation is Christ’s Birth.
I checked the etymology, definition, meaning and application of Christmas and I found out the following:
Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of people around the world.A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night.Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations,is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians,and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas )
Christmas comes from the Old English words Cristes moesse, ‘the mass or festival of Christ’. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The exact date of the Nativity is not known, but even in pre-Christian times the period between December 25 and January 6 was considered a special time of year – now known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The abbreviation Xmas, thought as sacrilegiousby some, is entirely appropriate. The letter X (chi) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. ( see: http://dictionary.reference.com/help/faq/language/e05.html)
We agree – I assume – that Christmas originally meant and was about Christ’s birth. Many beliefs, activities, traditions were attached to the original but purely, Christmas is about Jesus Christ’s Birth.
The facts of how Christmas day was established are many and debated. Much happened between Christ’s birth, first church, the first three centuries, medieval age, reformation and so on. Yet, there are Christians who still celebrate in January instead December and even there are such as the puritans who refuse to celebrate Christmas as the international majority does. It is interesting to spend some time and read all history and events on this matter.
In my own eyes, three main facts exist:
no one knows the exact date of Jesus Christ’s birth;
25th December was established to replace and/or expand the pagan celebration to the sun – in various areas with various ways.
As the above took place (25th December) different nations with divers cultures interacted their traditions within Christ’s birth.
As I moved from country to country during my life and as I have observed through history, mass media, discussions and so forth, there are few similarities of what is highlighted on Christmas day in international level:
Christian nations do visit the Church;
The majority of celebrating humanity cooks special dishes; so, a lot of cooking on the air!
The kids are the great beneficiaries: except the special food served for them, they receive nice gifts. In poor countries or disadvantaged communities still children receive a special meal and gifts (first or second hand gifts).
The majority of humanity understands Christmas as a day of love, a day of giving and especially a day for children.
It is more as a public holiday than a moment of worship.
Obviously… I am confused. How all the preceding happened? How the beginning of a humble birth of a King in a timid simple place was conquered by all the above? I see that the exchanging of gifts is connected with the three wise men who visited Jesus. (However in other places such as Greece, gifts are not given on Christmas day but as the year changes and it has no connection with Christ’s birth). I see that as Jesus was a baby, the day is oriented towards children. I see that His birth required a celebration and celebrations are accompanied with special cooking and gatherings.
Nevertheless, I am confused of how that amazing dimension took place even among no believers; how became a period of pure and cruel consumption, spending and partying. Don’t misunderstand me: I have done all the above and I still partially do.
How easy is for parents to refuse special Christmas gift to their child when all other kids receive gifts? How easy is to just go to church and have a simple but special dinner when the rest of the nation spends amazing amounts of money in the supermarkets? Not easy!
What really strikes me is the overdoing in everything except do remember that this day is about Jesus Christ and basically nothing else.
We have some other 364 remaining days within a year to cook plenty and special if we wish to; to create a Child day (as we have Mother day, Father day) and give as many gifts we desire to kids; to party; to dance; to sing; to go on holiday. WHY Christ’s day is chosen to do so?
The first church as we know it from the Acts and Epistles did not celebrate Christmas! It was established centuries later! Certainly, they had not equalize the birth of Christ with heavy consumption and sudden heavy charity!
The Church used to live in balance and moderation, in humility and joy …as possible.
I am glad seeing people celebrating as they remember the birth of Jesus and interacting few things connected culturally with celebrations. What truly breaks my heart is that overwhelming of consumption, overdoing in everything and basically teaching the next generation to keep doing so.
I cannot blame the world for what’s happening, as it was established and fed by Christians! The world of no believers just got the opportunity to enjoy and relax one more day of the year, no harm!
My desire is to see changes starting through the believers by cutting down the overdoing and explaining to our children why. They will understand. Bringing changes by applying assistance and giving each day of the year and not focus too much during festive period.
My desire is Christmas to stop being a cultural, social public holiday but to be just a day for Jesus and the ones who believe in Him. That’s all. My desire is to see our focus on Christ as He really is today, not as a baby, not on the cross but true and alive on the right hand of the Father!
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