I often feel that Christmas should be celebrated by anyone who feels inclined to do so, regardless of religious beliefs. Agnostics, Atheists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths can easily celebrate Christmas, and I think doing so would have a positive impact on the world.
Of course, many people who are not Christian already celebrate Christmas. Agnostics and atheists seldom have issues with celebrating Christmas, and I’ve heard of some Jews and Muslims also celebrating Christmas, focusing on the secular aspects.
But many people feel they cannot do so, because of it’s association with Christianity. And I suspect many Christians would be against sharing this most sacred holiday, for fear of it somehow losing it’s true meaning, or fear of it being diluted.
Regarding the latter, I think that this is actually not a valid concern. The true meaning of Christmas is always going to be acknowledged and celebrated and remembered by Christians. We don’t need to fear that it’s going to somehow go away, or be forgotten. Its not.
In fact, I think Christians need to be more empowered to celebrate and acknowledge Christmas for what it means to them. Christians should not have Christmas, and its true meaning, taken away from them. All people of faith should be able to openly celebrate and acknowledge the true meaning of their religious festivals.
So I’m not at all suggesting that the true meaning of Christmas should be minimized even further. I’m not in support of making it just a secular only celebration. But I do feel that Christmas can mean different things to different people, and I don’t think Christians need to try to jealously hold onto some exclusive ownership of Christmas, and I don’t think we need to worry about its true meaning being forgotten or lost.
Think about it this way. Who is the true meaning of Christmas most relevant for? Obviously, Christians. I actually find it a little amusing to sometimes read about how enraged some alleged Christians are about the secularization of Christmas, because, its true meaning does not matter to people of other faiths, and it does not matter to people who do not have faith. It only matters to people who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ. And we’re not giving that up.
I don’t agree that we need to remove all references of Christmas from the Holiday Season. I don’t think we need to purge Christmas of all things Christmas-related in public and elsewhere.
But I don’t think we need to freak out about sharing it with the world. In fact, as a Christian, I think we should share it with the world. But the people of the world should be free to participate in Christmas as they feel comfortable.
Can a Muslim celebrate Christmas? Why not? Islam does not regard Jesus Christ as the Son of God. However, they do believe that Jesus was a prophet of God. So, why can Muslims not join in the joy and traditions of Christmas, and celebrate the birth of someone they uphold as one of God’s prophets?
Can a Jew celebrate Christmas? Why not? Judaism also does not regard Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and unlike Islam, it does not believe he was a prophet. But he was a peacemaker. He was a man who was an advocate for the poor, who taught that we should love not only those who love us, but also our enemies. So, why can Jews not join in the joy and traditions of Christmas, and celebrate the birth of one of their greatest citizens?
Now, some people might suggest that a Jew or Muslim could not celebrate Christmas because the word Christmas has the word Christ in it, and therefore, to celebrate Christmas would be an acknowledgement of the validity of Christian doctrine.
Or some might say that the name should be changed.
But changing the name would undermine the unity that would exist if more people celebrated Christmas. The whole point of opening Christmas to everyone would be to help people of various backgrounds be united together. But being united in common purpose does not equate to universally accepting the same things. In unity, diversity can still flourish.
By continuing to call Christmas by that name, and by celebrating it with all people, the sense of unity among people can be magnified, and we can all feel a little more of the joy, hope, love and peace that are associated with Christmas. We can all experience a bit more of the “peace on earth, and goodwill toward men” that we think of during the Christmas season.
But we can be diverse regarding the purpose of it. For Christians, we celebrate the birth of the Son of God. For Muslims, they can celebrate the birth of one of their prophets. For Jews, they can celebrate the birth of a wise teacher. And everyone can celebrate what for many people is now understood as a season of peace, and love, and family, and joy and celebration, and hope, and the “magic” of this special season that goes along with it.
But what about the implied acknowledgement of the name that would go a long with celebrating it?
Well, many atheists happily celebrate Christmas, and call it that, without giving it a second thought.
You see, acknowledgement is deliberate. You do not acknowledge something to be something simply by using a particular name or title. You do not worship something unless you consciously chose to do so. So, calling Christmas by that name is not an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ, if you don’t wish to view it that way.
If I met the Pope, I’d address him as “Your Holiness”. But I’m not Catholic. If I met the President of the United States, I would address him as “Mr. President”, but I’m not American. I would do these things out of respect. But I don’t acknowledge that either one of them has authority over me or that I’m an adherent of what they represent.
So, calling Christmas by that name need not be any kind of acknowledgement either. Its just a term. It means nothing to anyone unless you chose to accept that it has meaning for you.
Other religions can also celebrate Christmas. Its easy to build a case for Jews and Muslims, but anyone can celebrate Christmas, again out of a desire to be united with other people during the Holiday season, focused on the joy, hope, love, peace, goodwill, fun, harmony, etc. that we hope to experience each year. And if we all share Christmas with each other, maybe some of that good will might linger for a little bit longer.
So, I urge everyone to celebrate Christmas, and I hope that each year, everyone, regardless of faith, will have a very Merry Christmas!
(and yes, you too can then wear an ugly Christmas sweater – rejoice!)