This week’s reading was about Christmas and its meaning. Some people today complain that Christmas has lost the pure spirituality it once had; the author (Bruce Forbes) disagrees. In “Christmas Was Not Always Like This: A Brief History,” Forbes explains that the birth of Jesus Christ was not always celebrated by Christians (the main focus was on his death and resurrection). It was not until later that the Western Church decided to add December 25th to the spiritual calendar (possibly for matters of convenience over anything else). Later in history, Christmas was even banned. When Christmas was finally accepted in America, it was not from the widespread efforts of the Church; instead it was a cultural phenomenon that was actually inspired by leading business groups. While many people believe that we give gifts to parallel the actions of the wisemen that gave presents to Jesus, this may not be the case. When Christmas celebrations first started, gifts weren’t involved at all. The gift-giving came from a story of a Turkish Bishop who saved 3 girls from bad lives by secretly giving them bags of gold. It slowly became tradition for some parents to give their children small gifts. Businesses in the industrial era recognized this opportunity for sales and sold the idea that Christmas is the time of year to buy gifts for those you love. Forbes concludes that people need to stop saying Christmas is starting to lose its spiritual meaning because in all reality, it didn’t have much spirituality to begin with.
This reading really surprised me. My family has always been a little more focused on the church-aspect of the Christmas season and not so much on the gifts, so reading that people believe the holiday is losing its purity surprised me somewhat. On the other hand, I have plenty of friends who love the holiday season because of all the presents they receive from friends and family. In a way, maybe I’m the one that’s not seeing Christmas for what it really is; it seems from this essay that the birth of Jesus was never really the biggest point. So what truly is the meaning of Christmas then? When reflecting on this question, I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of three things: 1) the celebration of Christ Jesus (even if some do not believe it is the most important, it is still completely relevant; after all, there is no Christ-mas without the “Christ” ), 2) the giving of gifts, and 3) the recognition of a time to celebrate good company and companionship in a fun and lighthearted atmosphere. I feel that Christmas will have the most meaning if all three of these ideas can be balanced.