Of course, it is the festive season!
Although there is evidence during the late second century of disputes about different dates of the birth of Jesus – 6th or 10th January, 19th or 20th April, 20th May and 18th November – there is no reliable evidence of an actual birth date. A date was chosen somewhere somehow and that is what we use. It doesn’t really matter what date of the year, what matters is what we are celebrating and why.
Before I even get into celebrating the birth of Jesus, in Rwanda we don’t have the culture of breaking off work and taking holidays for a month or so, we work all year and take our annual leave as well as Christmas and New Year off. Our annual leaves never match up, so the only time we get off at the same time is during the December break. The excitement, joy, freedom of being away from the office for two – three weeks just gives the Christmas period a unique vibe to the extent that even those that don’t believe in the Bible get hyped during this time.
It was also the same time that the wise men brought Jesus gifts and worshipped him. All the gifts had significance so this period is a time to share gifts that have a level of affection attached to them. It brings out a different side of people and builds a natural urge to have the same experience year after year. Even those who don’t cook so well throughout the year tend to cook best on that day, hence, the fuss.
It has become a trend to the extent that even when one doesn’t believe in it, they are still caught up in it. All big companies pivot their adverts towards Christmas, roundabouts have huge Christmas trees and Christmas carols are ringing everywhere. There is no option but to jump onto the wagon.
Besides, there is no legitimate reason not to celebrate while others are happy. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating.
As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas. James 1:5.
The festive season lost its original spirit
Despite the fact that I’m a Christian and Christmas is aimed at celebrating the birth of Jesus, the whole festive season has been misrepresented, and for many, it’s just an excuse to party after a year of hard work. I don’t mind the partying; it’s the fact that the original spirit of the festive season is no more that bothers me.
To many, it has become a time for business owners to hike their prices since the demand is high. People spend more time thinking about how they will survive in monetary terms than actually celebrating the birth of the King.
If one was to carry out a survey on how many people actually celebrate Christmas with the birth of Jesus at the back of their mind, the number would be disappointing. I suggest that instead of the festive season being dubbed as celebrating the birth of Christ, it should be declared as an International Day for partying.
I remember as a child, Christmas was a guarantee of getting a new outfit which I would show off to my friends when I reached church. There was no way we would miss church on that day. We would have many family members coming to visit and a variety of food was prepared. We would eat as if it was our last day on earth. The last activity would be going to the lakeshore. That was my typical Christmas day till I was sixteen.
So to some, the festive season is an excuse to share memories with long lost family members. But then I also ask myself, why wait for Christmas to celebrate the gift of family? It’s also a clear indicator that we have totally lost the value of family as well.
A publication titled “Christmas - What’s All the Fuss About?” published on the All Saints Episcopal Church official website indicated that popular culture version of Christmas seems to be about buying things and making cookies.
The publication clearly quoted the reason why we celebrate Christmas or the festive season as:
“At Christmas we commemorate a moment in history when God chose to become a human being in order to share the life of the divine with humanity. By doing this for us we all are able to share in God’s eternal life. God did this in the person of Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate on Christmas. God didn't have to do this; only love for us could make God do this incredible thing that makes it possible for us to imagine having a relationship with God. There’s obviously more to it than that, but that’s the main idea.”
Therefore, for everyone celebrating this year’s festive season, please reflect on your spiritual life and let’s revive the original Christmas spirit instead of just jumping on the bandwagon of merry making or going on drinking sprees.