Well, I wrote a quick and short (concise) article on Christmas in the festivity mode to be published to my whole department yesterday and I just wanted to take this out and share it here as well:
December 25th marks Christmas Day which celebrates the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ in the context of Christianity.
Observed by Christians all over the world, it is a celebration of joy to welcome their Savior.
Originally religious in nature, it is an important and traditional occasion in the Church calendar to celebrate with the other Christians worldwide. However, the colors of Christmas and the influence of other traditions and ancient winter festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia has assimilated the commercialization along with the festivity which typically centers on the themes of family time, compassion, spirit of giving and of goodwill.
Today, Christmas day is celebrated worldwide regardless of race, religion and nationality. Traditions and customs which are practised in the celebration include Christmas trees, exchange and giving of gifts and also the popular Santa Claus appearance which has paved the path for commercialization whereby year end sales, winter and Christmas promotions start to make way a month ahead to usher in the Christmas celebrations.
From the religious standpoint, Christians typically prepare for the family dinner and presents for their family and friends. Preparations begin approximately a month ahead whereby the plans for Christmas reunion dinners, shopping for presents, decorating the house which includes setting up the lights and Christmas trees, sending out Christmas cards, etc. Christmas parties are also thrown for gatherings and also the popular trend of presents exchange. Christmas Eve will be the time for family reunion dinners and also Christians will attend Church services or masses for the midnight Christmas vigil.
Christmas generally themes on the colors of red, white and green if you observe from the designs and decorations which include the mythical Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, candy sticks, winter, etc.
Christmas is also typically associated along with the ushering of the new year in the Julian calendar as it is approaching the year end. 1st of January ignites the new start of a new year which today, also has been commercialized in the trend of partying and countdown celebrations with the inclusion of fireworks and street parties.
So, you can pretty much see the orthodox of Christmas practically revolves around that same line. However, I did come across this article in Wikipedia that mentioned the birthdate of Christ was not on 25th December; rather this was a date selected as a customization according to the influence of the various cultures and winter festivals as mentioned above.
I was aware of that when I was still in school as U used to attend the Sunday School classes( catechism aka religious classes for the Catholic children which will be conducted in the Church) as my Sunday School teacher once mentioned that before.
I am not sure of the exact birthdate of Christ but to me, what matters most is the faith that we have when we practise our religion is that HE exists...and he is there to save us from our sins. He has been a very noble person and I used to like listening to my Sunday School teacher's stories on the life of Christ and what he has done throughout his life.
I find it noble and really touched to the core that there is such a good man. But the other part I liked that one of my teachers described and portrayed Jesus Christ in such a manly and down-to-earth person. He said that Jesus Christ, although was the Son of God, but he was sent down to earth as man; and to experience the sufferings and the same ordeal man go through in their lives.
For that, our teacher actually told us that Jesus too, had feelings and emotions and react accordingly. For instance, he showed his anger when at 12, he destroyed all the pagan statues in the temple as he felt that they insulted the house of God.
Then he also can feel the hurt and pain of betrayal when one of his disciples betrayed him.
The most amazing part was when he went through the agony of the crucifixion...I cried when I read the Bible about that.....although I was only very young and furthermore, I was even just reading a Children's bible which was colorful and pictorial. But I could feel the wound through those descriptive words such as placing a crown of thorns on his head...OUCHH!!!! That was inhumane!!!!
And you will already squirm and shed endless tears when it comes to the nailing to the Cross....I mean, how painful and how could anyone felt it that way?
It came to your mind in an instant; all those normal questions:
1. WHY didn't GOD save his own son?
2. WHY didn't GOD stop those people?
3. WHY did GOD torture his own son?
4. WHY didn't GOD hear his own son's cries?
I was just very young but I wondered on this matter. Then I came to understand that when GOD created man, he wanted to create us in his own image. However, the serpent which worked the ways of the evil start to influence men; God's people to learn the bad side of the world and turn against the Word of God.
Successfully influenced Eve to take that Forbidden Apple and further influenced Adam to take it too. They then start to feel ashamed of themselves and also their own nakedness which thus acknowledged that they had taken the apple against God; their Creator's will.
Due to that as well, the serpents were punished to only crawl on the floor and to not possess beauty and to be hated by all living....which they now (as according to the stories) are reptiles; snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, etc...which are scorned upon by human beings.
Eve was also punished to suffer the pain of childbirth while Adam had to bear the weight of the apple stuck in his throat to remind them of their disobedience.
And that was the start.....God knew that with this incident, man can and will be easily influenced by other forces of evil to have that little devil within themselves which can lead them to do things which are frowned upon and not encouraged by GOD......
Furthermore, the devil is always the worst foe of GOD and always wanted to do the exact opposite of GOD to spite the GREAT ONE. In fact, the Devil continuously challenges GOD in all his good ways and therefore GOD knows that all God's creations will be his target.
True to that, human start to develop all the mortal sins and also the gravely commits....which include greed, envy, lust, etc and they became so evil that God decided to destroy all of them rather than have a world full of evil...and that was the story of the Noah's Ark.
Then God decided to send HIS Son to save the world and redeem human's sin...but first, before he can work through his son, he needs his Son to go down as man to experience what a man goes through and how they perceive the world.
Thus, God sent his son to save his people from committing more sins on Earth.
Jesus Christ was born to Mary (today known as Mother Mary or the Virgin Mary) ; a young peasant girl and also Joseph the carpenter.
Now, Mary and Joseph were not a couple nor were they lovers; in fact Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Christ.
She was enlightened by the Angel who acted as a messenger to notify her of her important task to bear a child; no ordinary child but the Son of God in her womb.
Initially shocked and confused as to how she can perform the task as she was a virgin; but she did it for GOD; same goes for Joseph; which is why until today we worship Mary and Joseph who are now saints in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
Jesus was born in a stable in a small town of Bethlehem...nothing spectacular thought he was the son of our Creator but something very close to home:)
However, his birth was the time of the redemption where he came to save us and his dying on the Cross was to cleanse mankind of all their sins and I would say, wake us up on the cruelty of human beings.
As such, Easter is also another important occasion marked in the Church calendar.
Back to Christmas, that was his birth in that little town of Bethlehem.....you would know of the famous carol "O, little town of Bethlehem" and also Away in a manger.....everywhere was full that night...and they couldn't find a place for the birth of Christ.
The 3 wise kings also came to pay their respects to the Son of God and even gave him gifts.
Thus was the story of Christ......
I attended mass last Sunday and the priest brought up the topic of the true meaning of Christmas. Contemporary people are more excited about the physical preparation for Christmas as they go shopping for new clothes, presents, decorating their homes, travelling to winter countries to experience snowy Christmas, etc. But Christmas is all about being prepared to welcome the coming of Christ to mankind.
We should be prepared mentally as well to cleanse ourselves and be ashamed of our own sins which is why we also go for confessiong prior to Christmas.
In fact, that was one of the reason why I mentioned that Christmas is getting way too commercialized that we are blinded by all the materials to truly see and understand the meaning of Christmas.
Is Christmas all about presents?
Is it about nice decorations?
Is it about parties and having a good time?
Worse still, ask the kids, is it all about Santa Claus aka Father Christmas?
Christmas is; yes indeed, a time of celebration as it is a great joy to us that our Saviour has been born:)
BUT, go more in depth, what do we do when our Saviour is born?
Celebrate and party hard like there's no tomorrow?
Did we ever stop and think whether are we ready or worthy to be God's people if we are full of sins; selfishness, greed, lust, envy, anger, hatred?
What difference are we from God's enemies?
People do presents exchange during Christmas, BUT do they really understand why did this tradition or practice even came about?
The presents during Christmas is actually to remind us the joy of giving and sharing and not about comparing and remembering what kind of presents people give us and also in terms of effort.
The point is, giving presents is not just about materials; although humans are materialistic but it is about understanding the giving and sharing....it actually links to forgiving and putting the past behind us.
What is the point of giving when in your heart, you hoped that you will get something in return when you give someone a present and you get disappointed when they don't??
If that is the case, you can stop giving presents....
Giving is just like that; learning to forgive and forget and bury all those hatred and grudge against people.....that is the true art of giving...means you are ready to be more like Christ.
Also, why Santa Claus, etc?
Just think along those lines; and trust me, you will really enjoy Christmas and the true happiness of the festival as well.
With that, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry and blessed Christmas!! May you and your family experience the joy and magic of Christmas:)