Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why is Christmas on December 25?

The date (or at least the time of year)  may have been chosen as early as 273.  Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the True God, this time of year was picked. The Church, in her wisdom, has generally viewed efforts to reshape culture—through holidays—positively. As a theologian asserted in 320,
"We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it."
The pagan origins of the Christmas date, as well as pagan origins for many Christmas customs sometimes fuel arguments by non-Christians.
  • gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia
  • greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year
  • Yule logs and various foods from Teutonic feasts
I have heard people say, "It's just paganism wrapped with a Christian bow." 

For me that is all the more reason to focus away from secular society and on Advent and Holy Days in preparation for Christmas. The whole "gift giving" that secular society -- merchants, in particular -- have made their own, is kinda crazy, in my opinion. Christmas is about Christ.

I watched a recommended video last year -- sent by a friend who raved about it. It started in the typical sidewalk interview style. The interviewer asked passersby,
"What does Christmas mean to you?" 
The answers were -- giving, family, food, Santa, surprises, decorating the Christmas tree, putting up Christmas lights, finding the perfect present, Christmas parties, mending friendships, seeing a movie on Christmas Day with the whole family, forgiving, Christmas songs on the radio, peace and goodwill toward men.
The music got sentimental. The close up reaction shots were superb, the pauses and smiles were well edited. My (then 10 year old) son looked at me said, "Mom, not one person said, 'Christ'."

I found that sad beyond words.   Forgive me for repeating; Christmas is about Christ. 

It is NOT about family, or giving presents, or trees or food.
If we put Christ first, TRULY PUT CHRIST FIRST, we will give to one another, we will have better family lives, we will forgive, we will have peace on earth; goodwill toward men.

“Either we live the liturgical year with its varying seasons of joy and sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the pattern of the world." (Helen McLoughlin in "Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home.")  That was her comment on the challenge Catholics have of being “in the world but not of the world” .

Yep, that is key. We need to strive (every minute) to be “in the world but not of the world”


Helen McLoughlin

1 comment:

Karen said...

thank you for posting this peggy!!! you have a way with words!

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