Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy "Holy Days"?

Would you be able to name all of the explorers who "discovered" and settled the Western Hemisphere? (I am eliminating Native Americans and just concentrating on the Europeans here.) I would venture a guess and say you could name, "Columbus." Then, there were many more (see this Web site for a complete list).

One belief virtually every explorer from Europe held in common was Christianity. It would be safe to assume these explorers brought with them customs for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I mention this to establish that Christmas has been celebrated in the Western Hemisphere since the late 1400s. The celebration of the Holy Day of the birth of Christ continued unbroken for centuries, until 1966 when "Black Friday" was named. Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving when the traditional gift-buying season starts.

Ever since then, the retail market has been shaping and defining how and what we celebrate. For example, now we have the opportunity to not only purchase gifts for Christmas, but for Boxing Day, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even Festivus (that is, if you consider exhibiting "feats of strength" giving a gift). And thanks to the United States Post Office, we can now celebrate Eid al-Adha as they add that stamp to their official holiday stamp collection.

So, it seems to me that in the ever-increasing drive to boost retail revenue, combined with a push to be all-inclusive, what happens is the supreme significance of Christ's birth -- and what that means for a creation lost in its sins -- blurs in peoples' minds. This diminishing is due in part, it would seem, to the growing number of alternate holidays vying for the public's already challenged attention span this time of year. I don't think this is a good thing.

Is it time for Christians to stand up for Christmas? Have we traveled too far down the material road to ever fully reclaim this annual day of honoring our Savior's birth into this world? Is it time to demand at least equal treatment for Christmas in store ads that mention Eid al-Adha but not Christmas? I personally will drop a coin into every Salvation Army kettle when the bell ringer offers, "Merry Christmas!" For two seasons now I have not dropped in a coin. This gives me pause to think about how, even in seemingly small and insignificant ways, Christ is slowly, almost imperceptibly being excised from the Christmas season.

How will you share your CHRISTmas greetings this year?


Mark said...

I need to share my CHRISTmas greetings ESPECIALLY with those who don't offer me a "Merry Christmas."

Anonymous said...

It seems that waiting for the bell ringer to say Merry Christmas is opposite of what so you espousing. Why not be proactive and deposit that coin while saying "Merry CHRISTmas"? The more they hear it, the more likely they'll use it themselves.