Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Have a good one?
by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Recently there has been a small ground swell on social media concerning the objection to the term ‘Happy Holidays’ being used instead of ‘Merry Christmas’. Some have gone as far as to say that there is a ‘War on Christmas’. Most of these objections come from Christians who believe that Christmas is a Christian observance and should be protected as such.
My question would be this. Christians, when did we get so inflexible and grumpy? Can a term really effect our faith?
John Pavlovitz an American pastor and blogger says this:
“I’m a Christian, when someone says Happy Holidays to me I simply say “To you as well”…because I’m a christian and not a jerk”.
We should accept well wishes graciously as the intent behind them is just that, a good wish, a lovely way to say hello in the supermarket or on the street. I don’t believe that people are making a deliberate politically degrading statement. I also don’t believe that it affects our Australian culture. Lets face it, how many Australians are celebrating the birth of Christ at Christmas anyway. Many are more concerned with, getting the Christmas tree up, how many people they have to cook for on Christmas Day, the arrival of Santa, and having a holiday break. With a vague recollection that it is a time for peace and goodwill toward man.
I think its important to remember that according to historians and scholars December was not even the month that Jesus was born. Those who study astrology and follow the story of the Magi believe that the birth of Christ was in April. Other archeologists and scholars believe that was in May. It is also important to remember that the symbols of Christian traditions like the Christmas Tree, carolling, mistletoe, holly wreaths etc, were originally syncretised from pre-Christian pagan traditions and festivals that predate Jesus.
The birth of Christ was not celebrated until over three hundred years after his birth when Constantine declared that December 25th was the date that Christ was born. The modern Armenian Church celebrate his birth on the 6th of January.
‘The Bible doesn’t mention his exact birthday, and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues. For instance, the presence of shepherds and their sheep suggest a spring birth. When church officials settled on December 25 at the end of the third century, they likely wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn, Saturnalia (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). That way, it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion’ (history.com)
In ancient Roman culture ‘Saturnalia was a public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home. A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. But it wasn’t Christmas. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival’. (history today)
So as we meditate on Christmas this year does it really matter what we say or the day that we chose to celebrate? I think its more important that we remember the person that we are celebrating and the things that He taught.
He was a man of love, compassion and peace. He demonstrated grace and forgiveness. He was merciful and inclusive. I think that Jesus would be more concerned with how we live our lives and how we treat one another rather than living with a defensive stand about a commemoration done in his name.
“Everyone will know that you are my disciples when you love one another” – Jesus (John 13:35)
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