The holiday season is a time of year that almost everyone loves. Kids are excited to get a break from school and some new gadgets. Even adults express their inner child a little more freely. It’s much more than packed Christmas decor adorning light posts and jam-packed shopping malls. It’s the season of joy and expectation.
However, do you ever wonder about the purpose of Christmas? If Jesus is the reason for the season, how did Christmas get where it is today? We’ll cover these topics and more as we dive into the differences between biblical and commercial Christmas.
The biblical Christmas is the birth of Christ.
According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was the son of the Hebrew God and an Israelite woman named Mary, and Christmas is the celebration of his birth. Scholars say he was likely born in the spring and point to the mention of shepherds working in the fields as evidence. However, Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the day when the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ.
It’s a Christian tradition all over the United States and Europe to hold services on Christmas Day in remembrance of the birth of Jesus. Catholic churches have midnight mass to celebrate the first hours of Christmas Day. Some Christians see the holiday season as a time of devotion and read the books of the bible that talk about the life of Christ and memorize certain scriptures.
Commercial Christmas is an American invention.
Did you know that Christmas, as we know it today, was created by two great American authors, Washington Irvin and Charles Dickens? Indeed, their reimagining of Christmas is why we give gifts and work to express greater humanity.
December 25th was a festival day in many European cultures before the advent of Christmas. Many of these festivals would put American frat parties to shame. Pope Julius I chose December 25th as Christmas day when the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ, and some of the practices from the pagan festivals spilled over into Christmas.
Many of the early settlers arrived in America with a sour taste in their mouth for Christmas. Charles Dickens changed the perception of the holiday with his iconic novel, A Christmas Carol. Because of his work, people began to see Christmas as more of a family holiday than a time of reckless abandon.
“Commercial” Christmas is different, but it’s still beautiful.
When you think of Christmas, it’s natural to think of presents, towering Christmas trees, and Christmas lights everywhere. People often decry how commercial Christmas has become, but it’s still the most wonderful time of the year. It feels good to pull up to your favorite department store and see a commercial outdoor Christmas tree standing a story tall near the entrance. The sights, sounds, and scents of “commercial Christmas” are things of beauty.
Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the world. It makes sense that there are various ways to celebrate it. For Christians, it’s a time to celebrate the birth and life of their savior. It’s also a time for people to reunite with loved ones and enjoy giving and receiving. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of sadness for less fortunate people and those mourning loved ones.
Ultimately, the point of Christmas is to spread joy and bring people together. Even though the holiday has gone commercial, it still reminds us to be a little kinder, more giving, and joyful, even if only for a season. Whether you see Christmas as a time to renew your devotion to Christ or as a time to give and enjoy the holiday season, do it happily, safely, and with Christmas joy.