This is Christmas. And there’s a reason for this season.
It appears today that using the name of God, or making reference to God in general, or the Christian faith, or the name of Jesus in particular, is considered to be taboo in our present cultural climate. It is thought to be most “un-PC like.”
Are there other events going on at the same time as Christmas? Sure. You’ve got the Winter Solstice (http://www.circlesanctuary.org/pholidays/WinterSolstice.html), normally recognized on the 21st of December (The Summer Solstice is the 21st of June). This is no religious event. Instead, it is recognition of the sun reaching its southernmost point. Man, being the spiritual creature that he is, will make a religion out of anything. Thus, revelry, often leading to debauchery, is the result of this “religious” experience. “Winter Solstice also known as Yule, Christmas, and Saturnalia, occurs in mid December. It celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of Winter. The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God as the Sun Child. The God also appears as Santa Claus and Old Man Winter. Colors are Red, Green, and White. This is a festival of inner renewal. Do magic for a more peaceful planet.” The primary dates are December 21st, the first day of winter, and January 1st, the beginning of the New Year.
In the Jewish religion, the festival of Hanukkah (http://www1.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/default.asp) is an eight-day celebration which includes the lighting of the menorah for each night of the festival. This is in commemoration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees following their victory over the Syrians under Antiochus IV. “The celebration also reaffirms the continuing struggle to live by God's commandments and to lead Jewish lives.” As you read this article, Hanukkah (December 7-15) is coming to a close for this year.
Then there’s the more recent development of Kwanzaa (1966). On a web site (http://www.tike.com/celeb-kw.htm) the following is a description of Kwanzaa: “Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture.” The celebration lasts from December 26th through January 1st.
Celebrating one of these events is every person’s right. Just remember, if you want to celebrate Winter Solstice, it’s not a religious event. You’re simply recognizing the passage of time and seasons.
If Hanukkah is of interest to you, you may want to convert to Judaism since this celebration is a reaffirmation of being Jewish and living Jewish lives.
And Kwanzaa is for African Americans who wish to return to African traditions, but it is not religious in nature. Unless you are African American, this does not apply to you.
But Christmas “is a unique holiday, for it is both sacred and secular in nature: a Christian holy day commemorating the birth of the Christ Child, and a social and family holiday with family gatherings, gift giving, entertainment, and feasting.” This bit of information comes from: http://www.the-north-pole.com/around/US.html.
It’s important to remember that Christmas has not always been recognized in America. The Pilgrim Fathers passed a law banning the celebration of Christmas and all other holidays. Only the Sabbath was to be honored.
In 1831, Louisiana and Arkansas were the first states to make Christmas a state holiday. By 1870, all states in the Union had passed a law recognizing Christmas as an official holiday.
Can the law be changed? Of course, but not likely. Would that stop people from celebrating Christmas? No. First, those who claim to be Christian will always recognize the birth of Jesus. Second, Christmas has become way too large an economic boon for retailers, wholesalers and economists to allow for it to be dismissed.
Despite the crass commercialization of Christmas, it remains the singular event of the season, not only in North America, but around the world. So why has this celebration attracted so much venom and vitriol lately? The short answer is: Jesus.
I’ll conclude this next week. Until then, have a Merry Christmas!