Christmas is the Reason for the Season!
Renowned philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein stated in his work “Logic of Language” that “the meaning of a word was its use”. We could well make the same argument for holidays. The meaning of a holiday is its use. Obviously, Christmas is celebrated by many people for many reasons. Although Christians celebrate Christmas as a day commemorating the birth of Christ, it remains a day which is celebrated by countless millions who do not suscribe to the same notion.
The popular mantra “ He is the reason for the season ” is a valid claim for those who celebrate Christmas as the day commemorating the birth of Christ, but, it is not the reason to those of other faiths or those of no faith.
There has been much controversy over the centuries regarding Christmas and how it should or should not be celebrated. The puritans in 1659 even outlawed its celebration as did other early Christian sects for its perpetuation of pagan traditions. A study of its earliest historical roots would lead most of us to ban it ourselves, except that we do not celebrate Christmas for what it was, but rather for what it has become.
Today, there were another half dozen school districts debating appropriate Christmas music and the intrusion of religion upon secular institutions. Personally, I am an anomaly as a Christian. I am at odds with many of the manifestations of our theology today and engage in lively argument with more of my brethren than I do with non-believers. The ownership of Christmas is one such area.
Christ is the reason for “MY” season and I would hope, for all Christians around the world, however, that others have set aside the 25th of December to celebrate Christmas without reference to my God dose not bother me in the least. I have no expectation of non believers to engage in “Hark the Herald Angel Sings” or to join in a chorus of “ Oh Holy Night. ” Neither do I expect them to warm or shudder at my embrace of such traditional worship songs and I have never felt deprived of such liberty. And make no mistake; they are worship songs. Personally I believe much of Christmas' music is introduced as a part of tradition more than a religious message and I hold it in a special place which keeps them for both reasons. I will miss the departure of such Christmas music from public places because they are for me, so deeply rooted in tradition. That its religious significance intrudes upon the freedom of others must speak to my reasonableness and sensitivities. I shall build new traditions as will those whose faiths intrude upon the free liberty of others.
It is absolutely ludicrous to argue that such song belongs to Christmas. They belong to “MY” Christmas and there lies the distinction which should occupy our coming together. We are all free to make of Christmas what ever we want Christmas to be. It will not change what it is to me and I would wish the same be true for whatever it is to you. If there ever was a day which should encourage us to put aside our differences, then it is indeed, Christmas.
I like Santa, Christmas trees and presents under the tree. I adore non Christian Christmas songs, Christmas dinner and stockings hung on the chimney with care. Each of them is a secular tradition. I like that I am free to like them, to incorporate them into celebration and that it neither defines my person nor my faith. I like that I am free to make Christ the center of the season and I like that others may celebrate Christmas without making Christ the center of the season.
The wonder of Christmas is the spirit which has come to symbolize our mutual celebration. We come together as families. We exchange gifts and for a brief time, we live with a heighten awareness of those who are less fortunate. We decorate our homes, play holiday music and we get uncommonly festive. It is a magical holiday and it is magical for different reasons to all people. It is magical that we live at this point in time, at this place in time where Christmas, which is so many things to so many, accommodates all of our many and varied reasons.
With the spirit that Christmas should instill in all of us, whatever the reason, I hope it is for you a very special day; A day that brings to heart, good things, good tidings and good cheer. That we should all do so, even for a day, is the magic of Christmas.