Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Attitudes to Christmas 2: How should I celebrate?

on November 29, 2012

This is part 2 of the mini-series I started yesterday. Having established that Christmas is definitely a good time for a Christian to be celebrating, today I’m looking at ways of celebrating.

How should I celebrate Christmas?
For the reasons I discussed yesterday, Christmas itself is obviously a Jesus-focused event – Christ’s mass, or Christ’s festival. But why choose December when in fact the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown and unlikely to have been at that time of year? Well, I’m sure you’ll have heard some sort of explanation of the reasoning before now – the decision was made in Rome (probably by Emperor Constantine), and many non-Christian celebrations were already taking place throughout the Roman Empire around that date. Most of these festivals seem to focus on light in darkness, which to me boils down to keeping warm and cheering each other up at a pretty dark and miserable time of year. The point of all this is that, however Christian the name of the event might be now, I don’t feel it’s my place to criticise non-Christians who want to celebrate by getting together with loved ones, enjoying good food and having a bit of a rest, because that’s what’s always happened at this time of year. I always feel uncomfortable when people talk about “the true meaning of Christmas” or “the real message of Christmas” to criticise more secular celebrations, because we’re essentially looking at two very different traditions (and also because what they mean by “true meaning” or “real message” is rarely that Jesus came to die for us, anyway!)

I’m thankful to know the true Light of the World (John 8:12), which is going to put a different slant on my celebrations. So I have a choice: I can focus purely on his coming into the world (and the reasons why he did), and keep away from the presents, the pudding, the decorations and old films and cheesy music – or I can embrace all of that along with my celebrations of Jesus. What you do is up to you, and I’m not here to persuade you to go against your conscience. We’re not told to do those things any more than we’re told not to, but we are commanded to love one another and to ensure we’re not a stumbling block to anyone else (1 Corinthians 8:9-13), so if you’ve got a problem with mistletoe, or Father Christmas, or anything else, it’s nobody’s business to convince you otherwise.

Personally I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy the not-specifically-Christian bits, as long as they don’t shift my focus away from where it should be every day. All the good things, the chance to see family and friends and everything else, are gifts to me from God. It’s a wonderful opportunity to remember just about everything good he’s given me, because over Christmas it all seems to come at one time: food, people I love, a chance to rest, a lovely home to enjoy and show hospitality in, a reason to give and receive presents, as well as Jesus as my Saviour. As I’ve said many times before, one of my favourite Bible verses is 1 Timothy 4:4 – For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, and I know that this rings true of these things, and it’s a real chance to be thankful.

Tomorrow I’ll finish by talking about Advent, and how I think that fits in with all of this. Please leave a comment if you want to add anything or discuss anything!

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3 responses to “Attitudes to Christmas 2: How should I celebrate?

  1. shaunagh61 says:

    I just love the ritual of Christmas. I’m not much of a believer but it is a great excuse to remind us that our family is important and the people who share our journey are worth investing time in. And the fact that the origin of Christmas is probably a mid winter festival that the early Christians pinched makes it just so much more universal and therefore pertinent. I live in Australia, where a Christmas day can hit 30+ Centigrade or 100+Fahrenheit but I love to make a Christmas pudding that draws on the traditions of my European ancestors because that is part of my story. But just as we must adapt and change to our circumstances, I also make an ice cream plum pudding that my dear departed mother made for years as this was her way of bringing an Australian twist to the Christmas festivities. So, as a metaphor for life, there is no right or wrong; there is just our intentions and so long as our intentions are to bring us all together, the way we do it is our decision. And as my blog is Jane Austen inspired, I’d add that Jane never preached a Christian message, she just preached an ethical message. Hypocritical ministers of Religion like Mr Collins were lampooned but those that showed they had merit like Henry Tilney and Edmund Bertrum found happiness and love. Visit my blog and see what you think, at Austen’s Guide to Happiness.

    • northmum says:

      Hi, thanks for commenting! It’s fascinating to hear how traditions have developed and adapted as they spread across the world, like your iced pudding! I can’t imagine what it must be like to be somewhere so warm and light over Christmas, although my husband spent time living in Perth and Canberra during his childhood and we’ve talked about visiting together some day.
      Our opinions on Jesus obviously differ, but as I’ve said in my post I absolutely agree that those who don’t know him still have plenty to celebrate at this time of year, and I wish you lots of fun over the next month! xx

    • northmum says:

      PS I *love* Jane Austen, as you’ll see from several of my past posts! Looking forward to reading your blog 🙂

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