On Christmasism

“It seems like the people who are worried about ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ don’t seem to want to keep Christ in Christianity.” —Bonnie Jean Brown

I’m a little bit bothered by the over-religious nature with which many “Christians” celebrate Christmas, especially among Protestants. It’s supposed to be Jesus’ birthday, but he was not born in the winter. The fact that we don’t know exactly when he was born, I think, is a providential act meant to keep us from idolizing the nativity.

In terms of religious observance, I think Christmas (Christ-mass) makes sense for Catholics and other liturgical denominations that observe the church calendar, as they have a habit of remembering the saints on certain days, just as many denominations have predetermined topics for Sunday sermons throughout the year (for example, “Sanctity of Life Sunday”). Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter seem to be the only two “holy days” borrowed by most Protestants. It makes sense to celebrate Easter when we do, because it’s the Sunday after Passover, so we know its anniversary. Without Easter, there would be no Christianity, and in fact, the very reason Christians worship on Sunday is to have a weekly commemoration of the resurrection. So, in that sense, every Sunday is a celebration of Easter.

With Christmas, though, it’s something completely different. The holiday is a blend of pagan rituals commemorating the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. The fact that everyone wishes for a “white Christmas” is a poignant illustration of what the holiday implies for most people. And I don’t mean by “pagan” that it’s necessarily bad. It’s a good gift from God to be enjoyed. It’s just not particularly “Christian”. It’s a time for family to get together, to share gifts with each other and be thankful for the important things in life. This is common to all people, regardless of faith, and so we shouldn’t make it a Christian-only thing.

Also, we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the images of Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas, that have brought joy to children in cold countries for centuries, as if they somehow take away from the Baby Jesus aspect of it (which brings us back to my first point about it not being Jesus’ birthday).


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