I recently heard from a classmate that he was listening to the radio yesterday morning. He said that the radio station held a contest in which callers had to list five religious Christmas songs in ten seconds in order to receive a prize. He said he did not hear anyone successfully complete the task. And I thought, "how sad."
While writing this article, I was trying to find a picture that appears at the top of your screen before this article starts, called the cover photo. I decided to simply type "Christmas" in the google images search bar. Want to know how many times a picture referring to anything religious comes up in the first 100 photos of results (yes, I counted)? Three times.
There is an argument that sweeps our society to this day that saying the words "Merry Christmas" to someone who you are unsure of their religious affiliation is offensive. My response to that argument: get off your high horse and accept the fact that someone is wishing you a happy season, whether you celebrate that holiday or not. If a Jewish person told me "Happy Hanukkah," would I be offended just because I don't celebrate Hanukkah? Not at all. You know why? Because despite the fact that they don't know my religious affiliation, (or maybe they do), they're more than welcome to give me happy wishes during their holiday season. Also, anyone is more than welcome to say "Happy Holidays" if that's what they choose. But when society is telling us that it is offensive to wish a stranger "Merry Christmas," that's when my blood starts to boil. Well guess what? I'm offended if you tell me that I shouldn't say "Merry Christmas."
And you know what? As Christians we should be upset.
If you know me at all, then you probably know that I am a Christmas fanatic. The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year, filled with family and friends, delicious food, and the giving and receiving of presents. Many people would probably agree with me; that Christmas is a stressful yet wonderful time to celebrate joy. But, we all tend to forget about something. The whole gigantic, marvelous, and amazing reason that we have Christmas at all. Hint: it’s in the name. CHRISTmas.
Now, I would consider myself a pretty religious person. I practice my faith and I try to exemplify Jesus’ behaviors in my life as best as I can (and don’t get me wrong, I fail at this all the time). I know people who are like me, who practice their faith regularly. I know people who are not like me, they don’t practice a faith (and that’s okay). We need to consider, as society, what Christmas has turned into. Probably the first thing that many people think of when Christmas comes to mind is either A) Santa, B) presents or C) Christmas music. I myself am guilty of this as well. But you see, most likely people do not think of Jesus first. Society’s secular commercialization of Christmas has turned people away from the real meaning of the season. Think about it this way, if Jesus was not born, we wouldn’t even be celebrating Christmas today. I mean imagine it, a world without Christmas would be pretty terrible, because it would mean a world without Jesus.
Many of you reading this right now are either thinking “yup, she’s got a point,” or you’re thinking “okay, so what’s the big deal?” Well, personally as a Catholic, I feel that we should have a huge issue with the commercialization of Christmas. It is a religious holiday. Plain and simple. To put it bluntly: if you are partaking in all typical secular Christmas activities, the gift buying, the cookie making, the secular Christmas song singing, but are not incorporating the religious aspect, are you really even celebrating Christmas? Think about it. Wouldn’t you feel confused or offended if you practiced a religion with a huge feast day, and saw people “celebrating” that holiday without incorporating the real reason for celebrating; wouldn’t you be a little irked? Something to think about: if we put in as much time as we did planning and shopping for gifts for our loved ones as we did recognizing and celebrating the fact that Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth, then I think the Christmas season would look a lot different. Don’t you think that’s the kind of Christmas season God would want us to have?
Jesus tells us not to judge others, so please do not think that I am doing so if you are not religious and celebrate Christmas. I just feel that God would be disappointed in seeing how secular one of the most important feast days of Christianity has become. Also, it is 100 percent okay to take part in the Christmastime activities that do not incorporate religion, because frankly they’re fun! Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that a lot of the secular ideas associated with Christmas actually come from religious roots, like St. Nick aka Santa Claus. But, when we idealize Santa Claus as “the one who is coming” on Christmas without simply even recognizing any religious aspect, then we are doing something wrong. Because Jesus is “the one who is coming” on Christmas. And he will come again in the future. We as a society must remember why we even have the privilege of celebrating Christmas. Jesus was born to save us all, and we should celebrate that, not just the arrival of holiday sales, Santa Claus, presents, and Hallmark movie marathons.