I have noticed these things:
In preparation for this blog post I repeated a social experiment I’ve tried a few years ago. I asked friends and family one simple question: “What does Christmas mean to you?” The responses are posted on my facebook notes page should you want to see the raw data yourself. After crunching some numbers and evaluating the comments, the general consensus of these statements can be summarized like so:
“Christmas is a time to be with Family. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, sure, but we also give gifts to show our love & appreciation for each other. The season is also about the beautiful lights, the decorations, the feeling of cheer, excitement and joy! We get time off from work, celebrate personal accomplishments, and enjoy wonderful parties and get togethers. And the food is Great!”
Now, what about this “birthday celebration.” I cannot see the celebration in overextending credit; catching that really sweet sale at the mall, fighting traffic and common man in order to do so; or the stress and pressure that comes with giving “the right present” to those lucky enough to receive one.
Of all the Christmas parties I’ve been to, even those given by the most staunch of Christ followers, I’ve never raised a glass in three cheers for the birthday nor has there been a cake with “JESUS: Over The Hill!” icing neatly placed across the middle. As a matter of fact, Jesus would be out of place and extremely upset about the shenanigans that occur during many parties that would supposedly be held in the name of his birth, life and world mission. Of all the gifts given this year, how many will be addressed to the little baby Jesus? Better yet, of all the billions of dollars spent this season, how much of that will go towards the promulgation of Jesus’ ministry? The drunken excessiveness of the season screams overindulgence, and self gratification: how many complaints will you hear or even speak aloud yourself about the horrible present that some “thoughtless” friend or coworker gives out this year? These are things Jesus surely would have frowned upon had his disciples attempted to throw a month long celebration of his birth. Picture that:
Peter: Dude, Jesus, it’s your birthday month…we’re gonna get down and dirty ALL MONTH LONG BABY!
Jesus: ((blank stare))
My third point is simple. Jesus was NOT born on December 25. He was NOT born in December. He was not even born in the winter time. The true history of this holiday lies within pagan traditions, a number of which were assimilated into Christianity in order to easily facilitate the transition from paganism to Christianity. If Christianity had not found ways to blend the old pagan traditions with the newer Christian traditions, Christianity probably would have seen stronger opposition. As you can see, it worked very well. But how would YOU like to celebrate your birthday 6-7 months after it actually happened? I actually know someone who does that due to immigration issues…kind of weird.
Furthermore, how would you like to celebrate your birthday and everyone gets gifts but you? What if the majority of parties and activities that allegedly celebrate You become events that completely ignore your existence?
Finally, it bothers me that there are people who get upset at hearing Christmas music in restaurants, or by hearing the simple well-meaning phrase “MERRY CHRISTMAS” coming from a shop attendant or store clerk. It irks me that we humans can not SHARE this season because of rigid religious differences that prohibit you from celebrating what is mine and vice versa. I am aggressively perturbed that the ONE SEASON dedicated to good cheer, warmth, and the general celebration of LIVING is set aside by a good number of society because the supposed “reason for the season” is a religious figure whose purpose for being was to preach the message of Loving Thy Neighbor and finding the Kingdom of God that is inside each and every one of us regardless of nationality, religion, belief system, etc.
I say Enough! We need to come together now and do in name what we have already done in practice: Take the Christ out of Christmas. For those who wish to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, a significant and needed event in human history truly worth celebration, I suggest you find a day closer to his actual birth and make that the holiday. But I say we begin to release the idea of that Man from this day and this season as he does not fit with the vast majority of CRIMMUS merriment that we have all come to love.
During a not so recent conversation:
Her: You still recognize Christmas though right? (in reference to my not participating in the commercialized gift giving ceremonies)
Me: “Recognize.” What do you mean “recognize?”
Her: Like the reason for the season, celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
Me: Umm, no one celebrates Jesus’ birthday for Christmas.
Her: Yes they do, that’s what it’s ALL about!
Me: Oh. Well, what do you do during this season to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
Her: I go to church!
Me: Oh. Did you go to church last Christmas?
Her: No, but I’ve been to church on Christmas before.
Me: Oh. So you didn’t celebrate Christmas last year?
Her: Huh? Yes!
Me: So you celebrated Christmas without celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
Me: So yeah, no one celebrates Jesus’ birthday for Christmas.