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Saturday, 22 December 2007

My view of Christmas

I know there are a lot of different views of Christmas floating around so I thought I'd add mine into the mix. I don't want to misrepresent other's views so I am going to provide links to articles to hopefully avoid this.

Some people view Christmas as a Pagan festival in which Christians should take no part:

Others celebrate it as if it is a Christian festival:

Personally, I celebrate it as a cultural festival.

Yes Christmas has Pagan roots but the meanings have been lost and the mode of celebration has evolved over the centuries and I imagine bears little resemblance to it's Pagan origins. We have many traditions and words which come from Pagan religion/culture. When I was getting married, a friend lent me a wedding planning book. Every so often it had a little fact box telling you about the origins/meanings of many wedding traditions. For example, both the wedding cake and the throwing of grains over the couple (which has evolved into confetti) originate from ideas that grains would bring fertility and make the marriage fruitful. In the same way that most Christians would not have an issue with these wedding traditions, I do not have an issue with traditional Christmas celebrations.

The incarnation is an important subject which we should think upon all year round and not just at Christmas. Having said this, the world considers Christmas to be a Christian festival and it can provide a useful opportunity for witnessing. We always send blatantly Christian Christmas cards containing lots of Scripture. Although I do talk about Christianity with my atheist and agnostic friends, I doubt I would get away with sending them portions of Scripture like that at any other time of year. However, there is nothing in the Bible instructing us to celebrate Christ's birth at a specific time of year or in a specific way. The only day we are commanded as Christians to keep is the Sabbath. On the Sabbath we celebrate Christ's birth, death and resurrection. There is a danger that by focusing on the incarnation on this one day, we can forget about it at other times or detract from the Sabbath. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with bringing Christianity into Christmas but just that we must be careful if we do so. Given the common knowledge that it has Pagan origins (and based on feedback from an atheist/agnostic friend who I agree with on this point) trying to talk about "the true meaning of Christmas" as if Christianity is the origin is of little benefit as is not true anyway. Personally, if I wanted to have a "Christian Festival" I would probably celebrate something like the Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles as at least these have a Biblical basis (although they are not commanded to Christians).

If we consider Christmas to be neither Pagan nor Christian should we celebrate it? We are not supposed to the like the world. I celebrate New Year and Guy Fawkes Night, the US has Independence Day and France has Bastille Day. These are cultural festivals too and I personally do not see anything wrong in celebrating them unless to do so would involve sinful practice.

So there you have it. I celebrate it as a cultural festival and acknowledge it as such whilst recognising that many people associate it with the birth of Christ.

What is your view?


Swylv said...

I have a hard time acknowledging 12/25 after being told "it's Jesus' birthday" in my teen years and now in my twenties learning the truth that 12/25 celebrations were around since even before Messiah came, and Deuteronomy 12 telling us not to adopt the other nations heathen celebrations as our way of worshipping the One and Only True Yah because in so doing our Yah considers it an abomination. In other words you can't "christianize" a heathen celebration.
just my .02 but so glad to know I am not alone in this thinking, again see Deut 12 and Yah is the same yesterday, today, and forever HE changes not

Jimena said...

Thank you for sharing. It's nice to hear how Christians celebrate or don't celebrate Christmas. This was my first Christmas as a married woman, we didn't do anything super special because I don't really know what to make of Christmas yet. I hear so many things, and have read so many things... the great thing is that when I get to a point where I have to wonder what "truth" is... I can look to Jesus who said He was the "truth"...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments. It is certainly better to err on the side of caution if you are unsure rather than to celebrate it if you think it is wrong.

Buffy said...

I enjoy celebrating Christmas. I understand that some of the roots of how we celebrate this time of year goes back to pre-Christian times. However, I think that had more to do with people trying to get through the hardest time of the year by using feasts, celebrations and coming together as a community than with worshipping other gods. I think that there is still some sense in this. I suppose the early Christians thought it was better to let people continue to have their celebrations and use them to turn their thoughts to Jesus and God rather than make everyone miserable by banning them altogether.

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