The True Meaning of Christmas

Around this time of year, someone always decides to bemoan the absence of Christianity in Christmas. I’ve been thinking about this and I wonder, is it such a bad thing?

Obviously the roots of Christmas are in Christianity. And equally obviously, Christmas has become far more about the commercial aspect than about the celebration. However, I think we have become unnecessarily fixated on these two extremes.

A lot of people are not Christians, and a lot of people are not Christians for good reasons. Christmas is a holiday that engulfs the entire nation. I can appreciate the point of view that says if people cannot be bothered to go to church, they shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but should we say that these people are not allowed to enjoy the public holiday? That they may not give or receive presents? That they should not be permitted to have turkey and trimmings on the special day? That, to my mind, is not very Christian.

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I used to class myself as Christian, Catholic specifically. In a way I still do, although I find it all pretty unconvincing. I do go to church at Christmas, but it definitely isn’t my favourite part of the day. However, I’ve never begrudged non-Christians their fun at Christmas. There seems to be some idea that they are the reason Christmas is so commercialised, and of course that is ridiculous. Big business is the reason, with their cynical marketing and adverts that start in September.

Despite that very irritating fact, we should embrace the giving and receiving that comes with Christmas. It is my favourite day of the year because I have the opportunity to see and convey my love for my entire family. I put thought and effort into their gifts, and I know that they do the same for me. We spent the day just enjoying being together and I don’t know anyone who would get to the end of their life wishing they’d done less of that.

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Collectively, over Christmas we are all in a good mood, and we spend most of December indulging ourselves. Is that a bad thing too? I don’t think so. Most of us spend a large portion of time doing things we’d rather not do, whether through trying to be healthy, or because we need to earn money. Why not have a month where we all, collectively, just say ‘fuck it!’. Of course, to behave this way throughout the year wouldn’t be productive, but 1/12th of the year? It sounds reasonable to me.

People are happier at Christmas, and I think that alone is a reason to encourage everyone to celebrate. Happiness is the point of life. And if they want to go to church while they’re at it, well, that’s even better.

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