The true meaning of Christmas?
Network Norfolk content editor Tony Rothe reflects on the many ways people choose to celebrate the Christmas season.
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of mid-winter and the winter solstice. The Scandinavians celebrated Yule by burning logs, the Germans honoured the pagan god Oden, and the Romans observed Saturnalia, a hedonistic worship of their god Saturn.
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday - the birth of Jesus was not celebrated in England until the end of the sixth century and, apart from a break during Cromwell’s reign, has been gaining in popularity, and commercial opportunities ever since.
So, what is the true meaning of Christmas? To Christians the answer is obvious – the celebration of the birth of our Lord, saviour, mentor, guide and best friend Jesus.
But not everyone will agree – The “true” meaning of Christmas for them might be meeting up with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, decorating their house with light and colour, treating their families to lovely food, giving to charity, helping others, or just chilling out after a hard autumn at work. To them, that is their reality, and each of these activities is fine in itself.
Should we chastise and condemn folks for simply wishing to have a good time, if that’s what Christmas means to them? Is our criticism likely to introduce them to God’s love and grace?
Let us joyfully celebrate the birth of God’s Son in whatever way is right for us, both in church and by joining in the secular activities, but invite others to join us in our celebrations. Let our positive enthusiasm for worshipping the Light of the World prove infectious as we share a very happy Christmas!
Tony Rothe is Network Norfolk Content Editor for North and East Norfolk. He is also a children's instructor at a field study centre, church caretaker, and has written books of walks.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norwich and Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here.
Click here to read our forum and comment posting guidelines.