Should Christians still celebrate Christmas?
Many Christians today feel that one of the Church’s most sacred festivals has been hijacked by commercialism and even by those of other faiths…. or none at all. With the current emphasis on Santa, feasting, parties and expensive gifts there is sincere cause for concern that the true, spiritual significance of Christmas has been lost, or at any rate buried under a landslide of commercialism and hedonistic pleasure.
Appalled by the extravagance, greed and excess that is particularly evident all around us at this time of year, many Christians are now asking “Should we still be celebrating Christmas at all?”
Celebrating at Christmastime is not really the issue though; the issue is what, or who, we choose to worship … the attitude of our hearts. As Christians, we do not falsely worship Santa Claus, we worship God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Yet God does not desire superficial sacrifice and a show of “religion” from us; He desires a humble and contrite heart, filled with love for Him and our fellow man.
Pleasing God is the most important issue here. We can avoid celebrating at Christmastime, yet still be uncharitable, selfish and judgmental. There are those who denounce Christmas and its commercialism, yet buy a E1000 television or go on expensive holidays at this time of year. Some parents complain about the secularization of Christmas but allow their children to watch unsuitable entertainment during the holidays. Others spend a lot of time posting videos of themselves having fun on social media but spend little time in prayer truly seeking God, let alone doing voluntary work in the community or helping those in need.
Ultimately, however you feel about Christmas celebrations, the question to ask is, “Is my stance leading to love, joy, peace, contentment and kindness. Or is it leading to arrogance, divisiveness, criticism, and anger over non-essentials?” The former reflects the true meaning of Christmas, the later is the slippery slope of judgmentalism.
This leads to another question, “Can we reclaim Christmas?” Reclaim in this sense means to recover the ownership of something. Christmas celebrates eternal life through the birth of Jesus. So what has this to do with the emphasis on material things, such as gifts, cards and the Christmas Tree?
Christmas above all represents peace and goodwill among men… and what better way to spread the message of love than by sharing what you have with a poor family or giving money to charity to help those who are less fortunate? Donating through ACN’s Gifts of Faith is an excellent way of helping persecuted Christians who have lost everything and supporting priest and Sisters in their humanitarian work. As long as we avoid extravagant spending and getting into debt, even exchanging modest gifts with family and friends can be way of expressing our love for them.
To “reclaim Christmas for Christ”, choose cards depicting the Nativity rather than snowmen or Santa Claus and include a brief quote from the Bible as part of your Christmas message when you write to friends.
Even the ChristmasTree is rich in symbolism for Christians– recalling the cross, once a dead and barren tree supporting a lifeless Savior, the Tree now stands evergreen as the symbol of eternal life that darkness cannot overcome. To add to its religious significance, why not decorate your Tree with angels like those who proclaimed Christ’s birth to the shepherds and place a Star on top, in remembrance of the Star that led the Wise Men to Jesus?
Being a true Christian is not incompatible with having fun. If what we do honours God, He will be pleased. The key is to avoid arrogance and judgmentalism, celebrate in moderation and avoid worshipping the wrong things. During the Season of Goodwill, we should strive to follow St Paul’s advice and not “dispute over doubtful things,” but “live peaceably with all men”
God bless you…and have a happy Christmas.