So the goose is getting fat and please do put a penny in the old man’s hat. I was thinking about Christmas lately, and decided to attack the question of Christmas; religious or commercial? What I discovered is that the answer is religious, or commercial. Actually, both.
I was reading a blog post by the eldest daughter of some family friends where she described the problem with being an atheist at Christmas. You can find it here. In that post she briefly talked about the argument that Christmas is commercialized. It really got me wondering, has the Santa Claus, Macy’s Day Parade commercial invasion of Christmas really detracted from the holiday. The only real answer I could come up with was no. In fact, the commercialisation of Christmas has only furthered the true message of this holiday.
To truly examine the message of Christmas, we must go nowhere else but the Bible itself. Verse 3:16 of the Gospel of John is a good place to start. From the New International Version of the Bible, it says:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So God is supposedly giving to the human race. To Christianity, the life of Jesus is constantly seen as a gift. God GAVE to us. Interestingly so does Santa Claus, and so do people throughout this season. Christianity tends to take a far too literal and narrow view of Christmas. Jesus was born on Dec. 25th and the world has never been the same. Humanity was saved. The date of Christmas has often been called into question. Dec. 25th, to historical scholars, seems to be an unlikely date for the birth of Jesus. Also, when the Gospels were written the Roman world existed on the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar established in 1582. While the difference in time amounts to a number of days, it does lead to doubt about the exact date of Jesus’ birth. The fact that the date, Dec. 25th, is close to the winter solstice, and coincides to the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, lends credence to the argument that Dec. 25th is an arbitrary day.
None of that wasn’t the message. None of that should be the message. Let’s look at the history of Christmas. At it’s roots Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is much more that that, however. Over the years Christmas has taken on some more modern features. Most notably would be that of Santa Claus. Santa is however, generally accepted as Christian himself because he is based on the historical figure of the Christian Saint Nicholas, a 4th century catholic bishop.
Most importantly, this argument should not be about the history. It should not be about beliefs. Christmas has developed the world over, into a holiday about one thing; charity. It has been merely about that one thing for its entire history. If you take the religious view, it goes back to the two most important words in John 3:16 “God gave”. If you prefer the secular Christmas, it is still built around a character that gives to others, especially children.
In the end Christmas is no longer just a religious holiday, and that is a good thing. It is a holiday, celebrated around the world,and its core message is giving to those in need. What more do you think Jesus would have wanted. He was not a man who expected us to worship him. He expected people to live like him. If you are a Christian or not, the lesson we should all learn is that giving is the reward. So, as you’re walking into a store and you hear a bell ringing, reach into your pocket and put whatever you can in the bucket. That’s what Christmas is about.