Today is my first day off for the Holidays, so I thought I would take a moment to reflect a little on the season. I celebrate Christmas, but I am not religious. The word “Christmas” is, by definition, a Christian religion contraction of “Christ’s Mass”. It is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But, in reality, despite evidence that he did probably exist, no one really knows when Jesus was actually born. Different scholarly estimates place his birthday on March 28, September 11, or November 18.
So, why is Christmas on December 25? Well, in an attempt to sway pagans to Christianity, the church took pre-existing celebrations from around that time of year (many of which were remarkably un-Christian, and could involve human sacrifice) and told pagans they could still celebrate them as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. So, celebrations of the winter solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, and other mid-winter festivities gradually morphed into Christmas with the spread of Christianity. So, when people tell you to remember the true meaning of Christmas as the birth of Christ in the modern commercial age, they themselves are not actually remembering the true spirit of the season.
For me, Christmas is not the birth of Christ. It is time to spend with family, and show appreciation for them. We should do that sort of thing all year, but let’s face it, most of us get caught up in the rush of everyday life. Christmas to me is a reminder to stop and spend time with loved ones. I also like giving people gifts, and I enjoy Christmas shopping. I know this is materialistic, but it gives me satisfaction to get things for people I care about and spend the time wrapping them nicely.
Christmas also has so many great memories from over the years. My first LEGO set was delivered by Santa Claus, for example. The excitement and anticipation from those early Christmases is not quite as great anymore, but the memories are cherished ones. And, now I get to see that same eagerness in the eyes of my young nieces, and live it all again through them.
Whatever it is that you celebrate at this time of year, and for whatever reason you might do it, I hope you truly have a wonderful Holiday. Take the time to slow down, reflect, and make new memories with those closest to you.