Can’t imagine why but I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas lately.
A recurring question keeps swimming to the forefront of my squidgy brain. Just what is it really all about these days?
Obviously, for those people of Faith, the celebration of Christmas is an essentially important religious festival and gives them , quite rightly, the opportunity to share the love they feel for the one they call Jesus. (This post is NOT a springboard for religious debate and I fully respect everyone’s right to follow their own path … I don’t always understand it … but I respect it! … my own perceptions are pretty well explained by this quote of historical facts …
There is no evidence in the Bible that God told His people to have an annual religious observance of Jesus’ birth, and no evidence the early Christians did so. The practice began as a pagan festival in worship of the sun god, and was adopted by the Catholic church as a memorial to Jesus’ birth.
So, what then about the ones like myself, who don’t believe or, more accurately, don’t know what it is they are actually meant to believe in? Why do WE still celebrate?
The ‘Well Read’, will most likely say it is an extension of the Pagan ritual of marking the Winter Solstice. It was indeed the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts believed that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year. They introduced the significance of mistletoe too and of course the Romans played a very big part in bringing greenery and candles to the table.
I could probably write a whole book about how the traditions began but that wouldn’t bring us any closer to understanding why in this day and age of technological and scientific advance do we still continue to follow them?
Has Christmas really become no more than a global commercial enterprise, a way of extracting as much cash as is possible from everyone’s pockets? I often hear of people who will spend the entire year either saving for the Christmas to come or be paying back for the Christmas they previously had. Do children, or for that matter, many adults, know why we decorate a tree or eat turkey and minced pies? More importantly, do they care?
Of course, there is all the emotional baggage tied up with Christmas too. Some good, some not so.
There is Love. Love for our families, our friends and, quite wonderfully, often a love that spreads beyond our immediate environment and does fabulous things in the wider world.
There is Guilt. Guilt that we may have more than we deserve or, conversely. guilt that we do not have enough to bless our loved ones with the Christmas, ‘they deserve’.
There is often Sadness. A sadness that people we loved are no longer here and the reminder that the years are swiftly passing.
There is of course, Joy,Fun and Laughter too. Partying, feasting and a few ‘drops of sherry’ added for good measure.
Above all, there appears to be an unquestioning sense that it just IS! Almost a case of, ‘Well, it’s not going away, so we may as well join in’.
The collective genius of humankind may have landed a Spacecraft on a Comet, it may have invented holographic technology and one day, soon I hope, will discover the cure for cancer; but still (here in the privileged West, at least), we kiss under the mistletoe, wear our paper crowns and bankrupt ourselves buying the latest gadgets that will be obsolete by the following Spring.
So, the answer to my question may simply be, that, even though we have reached the 21st century…
We are still nothing more than tribes and tribes identify themselves by their traditions.
The fact that the often cynical world of business has hi-jacked these traditions and coated them in (albeit beautiful), worthless glitter, doesn’t take away their significance to the individual, to the family or to the Church.
So from my tribe to your tribe … with just 11 sleeps to the Big Day,
I shall ponder no more and wish you all a very, very
Peace on Earth guys and all that jazz …