Christmas Treat

I just finished Bruce David Forbes’ Christmas: A Candid History.

Forbes is a religious studies professor at Morningisde College and serves with Rachel (my wife) on the Board of Alternatives for Simple Living.

I found a good, more complete review than I will be offering here. This is a well-written, scholarly yet accessible read about Christmas. I highly recommend it.

The reason I write this today is that I read a letter to the editor in this morning’s Waco Tribune-Herald. Here is one paragraph to give you the idea:

Somewhere along the way during the past century, the central figure of the Christmas season was changed to Santa Claus. The Christmas season became the holiday season, and instead of the expression “merry Christmas,” it has been changed to “happy holidays.”

I want to share this from Forbes’ study.  Christmas as a holiday has never, in the history of humankind, been first and foremost about Jesus.  There is no record of Christmas being observed during the first 3 centuries after Jesus’ birth.

Ever since the fourth century, Christmas observation has risen and fallen, but has, broadly, never had much to do with the celebration of Jesus.  It has always been more about celebration (earlier, this was mostly partying, eating, and drinking, and openly relatively recently been about gift-giving).

Lamenting the way society, or anyone else, for that matter, treats Christmas is likely a waste of energy that could better be used elsewhere.  One such better use for this energy might be directed toward the Christ:

  1. Jesus’ birth was God’s way of coming into our world, onto our level, to communicate God’s love for us. What can you and I do over these next two weeks to communicate God’s love to those around us?
  2. Increasing numbers of Christians and non-Christians alike are concerned about the growing commercialism of Christmas.  What can you and I do to spend less and love more this Christmas season?
  3. Instead of arguing with non-Christians about Christian, pagan, and secular history behind various aspects of Christmas celebration, why don’t we practice civility in celebrating how all these various heritages can come together, as they do in the US?
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