The True Meaning of Christmas

Forget about the Christmas tree, the colorful lights, the snowmen, stockings hung with care. Forget about Santa Claus, his reindeer, the north pole. Forget about Yule logs, Christmas caroling, fruitcake and gingerbread houses. These are the mere trappings of Christmas. They serve only to provide the mood. To set the ambient lighting. To fill the air with the incense of joy. But they don't represent the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is all about Jesus, and the more the better. Break it down: Christ + mas = more Christ. In particular, we celebrate Christmas by giving presents to each other. In the past, secular and religious organizations have both complained that Christmas has devolved to a marketing tool by the big retail corporations. But what they fail to understand is that the giving of presents is a special recognition of the greatest present of all: Jesus gave us the ultimate gift (i.e. his life) to wash away the sins of mankind with his blood. In the years that followed (though the evidence for this is shaky), the newly minted Christians celebrated this event by cutting and spilling their blood. It was the least they could do - until infection set in. The somewhat deadly practice (for its time) gave way to the ritual exchange of gifts. This practice had the advantage of not killing the celebrant while simultaneously jump starting capitalism (ultimately giving rise to the United States).

While cutting is now a dangerous practice among troubled teens, the vestiges of the original tradition can be seen in the gift wraps and the bows used to ornament Christmas presents. Traditional Christmas colors are red and green, which symbolizes both colors of blood (e.g. see Hemoglobin and Hemocyanin). A red bow is symbolic of a bloody rag.

The classic Norman Rockwellian version of Christmas has families coming together over the holidays to share in the human bondage of love and feast. Nevertheless, this tradition evolved from the early Christian families gathering together to shed blood in the presence of one another, to symbolically absolve one another of sin. Today, we conclude Christmas by exchanging gifts, as if saying one to the other, "I sacrifice a part of me for you, that I may forgive you and cleanse you of your past sins." Giving gifts, sacrificing a small part of yourself, naturally makes you feel better, much like Jesus must have felt ascending into heaven.

If all this sounds like a contrived explanation, I have taken my cue from the American Family Association, an organization that describes themselves as an association of American families. They seek to promote the biblical truth underlying the culture of American families and they have been waging a war against the war on Christmas by leading a boycott against retailers who fail to say the word "Christmas" loud enough in their seasonal promotions. Think The Gap and Old Navy. And Banana Republic. In the AFA's recent call to arms, they are explicit about what makes Christmas special:
Christmas is special because of Jesus. It's not just a "winter holiday." For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself.
So Christmas is not about Cola drinking Polar Bears, mistletoe, or chestnuts roasting in an open fire. It's about exchanging presents. It's about absolving sins through personal sacrifice by way of a $50 Macy's gift card. It's about capitalism and the absolution of sin. It's about more Jesus. This is the biblical truth according to the AFA.

(h/t Think Progress, AFA Misfires in the War on Christmas)

No comments: