Aha! It's the end of January now, it is safe for me to come out; safe for me to emerge from hiding now that the wake of Christmas has flown past. No longer must I dodge the lumps of coal being hurtled my way, or tremble in fear of being asked the dreaded question, "So what did you get for Christmas?"
In case you haven't heard, my family and I don't actually celebrate Christmas. Try explaining this to any good Christian - or any good athiest! - and you are immediately bombarded with questions "Why?". People who aren't even God-fearing cannot understand why one wouldn't celebrate this joyous festivity. I mean; peace and goodwill to all men, it's more blessed to give than to receive, be thankful for what we have - all these messages are "Christian", right? Plus the tree is so fun to decorate, the lights look awesome once you eventually get them untangled and hanging up, and the looks on kids' faces? That just says it all.
Believe me, I'm speaking from experience here. Up till I was around ten years old, my family celebrated Christmas and it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was such a fun season because Dad got time off work, and we'd do all the decorating together; we got to eat loads of horribly good food, had fun opening amazing gifts, and experience the joy of visualizing what it must have been like to have seen Christ as a baby that time so many years ago. So don't think I'm speaking through my hat from a misconception about Christmas because I have honestly experienced it to the full.
Even so, my family is not the only one who doesn't celebrate Christmas. There are many who don't, and for many reasons. I could go into all the deep dark details of every fathomable sector of the Christmas scene. I could explain just how many pagan rituals and holidays converge on this particular season and all its trimmings. I could quote the Encyclopaedia on the sun gods, Catholics, where that tree decked in gold and silver actually derived from, and how the Bible doesn't mention anything about Christmas (watch that can of worms explode!) but what would be the point? Almost every single one of these issues can be traced to some other such story that have a lot more of a Christian background than pagan one. Plus, arguing over whether a holiday is pagan or Christian? What is that really going to achieve? For the love of candy canes, we'd have to go and rewrite the calendar; can't be living under a month named after a Roman emperor - they were pagans too!
So: why don't I celebrate Christmas then? The crux of the reason is actually quite simple:
It is a tradition of man.
A lot of people may think that is a lame excuse. (Did I hear someone say "birthday"?) Yes, it may be that there are many other holidays one might celebrate that have been concocted by humanity at any given point of time, however they are usually rather tame and harmless when it comes to the reason why. Birthdays are a chance to remember said person. Anzac day is to remember those brave soldiers lost in the war. Australia day... pretty straight forward. All in all, they seem pretty safe. Likewise, you might say, Christmas is a time to remember Christ, the greatest of them all! What's wrong with that?
Here is a tiny little gem that we often fail to miss. Though the Bible says nothing regarding celebrating Jesus' birthday, giving gifts in honour of him, or decking out a tree (albeit the latter depends on your perception of Jeremiah 10) it does give clear instructions on what we are to do to remember Jesus. No 25th of December, no Christmas carols, no tree, no gifts, no fairy lights, pudding or nativity scene, this is the only commandment straight from Jesus Himself -
- And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you;do this in remembrance of Me.”
- - Luke 22:19
The answer then? Communion! When we partake of the living bread and wine-as-blood spilt for us, this is the way God wants us to remember His Son. It bears remarkable similarities to Christmas when you think about it: eating and drinking, forgiving, loving, remembering, and doing it all together as a family in Christ. It takes the emphasis off ourselves and what we do, and reminds us of who God is and what He has done. What's more, communion can be had from month to month, week to week; every day even! Christmas is all year! How awesome is that?
Now, I'm not out to change anyone's minds here (contrary to what might be popular belief). However as someone who has had countless questions about why I don't celebrate Christmas, I thought I'd finally bring my views out of the woodwork to share them. May I please note! That though I don't celebrate this holiday, I think no less of anyone who does. This is one of the instances I apply Paul's philosophy: All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense... Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:20-23)
If people can, with a clear conscience before God, celebrate Christmas to the glory of Him, then by all means do so. I hold nothing against you! Plus you're free to tell me all about it, since I actually do know what you're talking about. But as for me and my house, serving the Lord wholeheartedly means we don't celebrate Christmas.
So there you have it. The "why" in a nutshell. I hope y'all had a very merry Christmas, because my brother had a very merry birthday. That's right! My brother's birthday is the 25th of December, and he's very pleased he doesn't have to share it with his siblings any more!