Every year on December 25th Christians and others celebrate Christmas. Christians do so as they believe that Jesus Christ the son of God was born on Christmas day, while others who do not believe, still mark the season as a time of peace, good will to others and a family time to celebrate. Here we take a look at the religious importance of Christmas in terms of, is it still a religious festival or a commercial entity that is purely a money making machine for businesses?
The Christmas Story
Christmas day is the day of the year Christians mark as the birthday of Jesus Christ. The New Testament of the Bible tells us that Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. He was sent from God to save us all and was laid in a lowly manger beside the oxen and asses. He was visited by three wise, who followed a bright star in the sky, as they too believed he was the much anticipated Messiah. Jesus preached peace, turn the other cheek, love they neighbour plus all the rules that 2 billion Christians today try to live by. The Nativity is just the beginning of the story of the life of Jesus and has been comemorated almost every year for the past two thousand years by Christians.
Is Christmas a Religious Holiday?
In essence it cannot be denied that Christmas is indeed a religious holiday as it is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. For Christians the birth of Jesus is a momentous event that is to be celebrated, while Christians also believe that Christianity played an important role in the way we live today and has had an important impact on the way we conduct society.
More people go to church on Christmas Day than any other time of the year. Maybe it is because at this time of year we tend to think of our families and friends and want to join in the celebrations churches offer bringing the hope and joy of Christmas into their lives.
Maybe it's simply to enjoy singing a few carols to get them in the mood for Christmas? Or maybe simply to hope their children will realise that the Christmas message is about loving and giving not just the receiving of gifts and over indulgence. Whatever the reason Christmas day services are about one thing only, celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Views On Christmas Changes
There are many different views as to what Christmas truly is about. Many traditional phrases and acts are coming under scrutiny with some viewing this as political correctness gone mad, while others claim it is an attack on their beliefs.
Take for instance the phrase Merry Christmas that is used by people the world over as a greeting at Christmas time. Some object to this phrase now stating that to say Merry Christmas is to assume the other person is a believer and that Happy Holidays is more appropriate.
Many Christians think that Christmas is morphing into a secular holiday rather than the religious festival it once was. As society progresses and changes it is inevitable for some that the vision of christmas and its meaning will also change. Looking at it objectively many of the adopted Pagan rituals we see at Christmas have now become more important to people at the festive season than the birth of Jesus. Christmas trees, santa, gifts, food and entertainment are just some of the things sited.
Many traditional Christians worry about the decrease in numbers of worshippers as Christianity does not dominate as it did in years gone by plus that in their eyes the true meaning of Christmas is being lost. Or is it? Maybe its just changing slightly in shape but is still there as a whole.
Christmas As a Commercial Enterprise
It cannot be denied that as the decades have passed Christmas has become more and more commercialised with companies cashing in on the celebrations big style. More and more money is spent every year with many people getting themselves into serious debt in order to buy the biggest or the best presents out there.
Despite this fact Christmas is still marked as a religious celebration by many who successfully combine the secular and commercial with the religious aspect of Christmas meaning there is room for all. Christmas is still a religious occassion but not exclusively, while for some this is why Christmas survives and still has influence today, the fact that it has learned to live in the modern world and change with the times.
Whether Christmas is a commercial event is entirely up to the individual as we all have the choice to spend to excess or not, eat to excess or not and drink to excess or not. For many companies Christmas is the time when they can make up for their losses of the previous year when sales are tight. This can only be good as it keeps people in jobs plus keeps the economy ticking over.
What is The True Meaning of Christmas?
This question has been debated at length for centuries none more so than in the past twenty years or so. Conservative Christians would like Christmas to be recognised as an entirely religious festival but throughout the centuries Christmas has always evolved taking on other elements such as Pagan influences and secular thinking.
Christmas has religious elements and traditional elements that combine together to celebrate the season, which is good is it not? The true meaning of Christmas belongs to the person celebrating it whether they be Christian, secular or something else. Many celebrations are nothing to do with the nativity such as hanging mistletoe or sending Christmas cards however they are still friendly and neighbourly things to do to mark the season.
If we want to celebrate Christmas in a non commercial way we would have to give our money to the poor, not drink alcohol, pray, go to a church service and forget the Christmas shopping. In reality not many of us would wish to do this therefore a happy medium is struck by many people who do what they can in terms of good deeds but still manage to enjoy the commercial side of the season. This for them is the true meaning of Christmas.
We cannot turn back the clock back to the "good old days" it's just not possible but we can all try to enjoy the Christmas season in a way that suits us therfore celebrating Christmas and what it means to us!