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Opinion: The Christmas We Never Knew
« on: January 18, 2017, 04:27:19 PM »
The Christmas We Never Knew
Published: December 24, 2006 by The Bohol Standard
By Atty. Aleck Francis T. Lim

Many things about Christmas we do not know yet. But most of us assume that we are so familiar with it. The truth is: we are not.

For instance, do we know that December 25 was a very important date for many ancient cultures? The Babylonians believed that the son of the queen of heaven, their cultic god, was born on December 25. The Egyptians believed that the son of their fertility god, Isis, was also born on the same date. And the Arabs would like to argue that their symbolic moon was born on December 24.

In ancient Rome, there was a celebration called Saturnalia which fell on December 21, the winter solstice in the western hemisphere. This is believed to be the shortest day of the year, which the Romans thought as the birth of the sun. Before converting to Christianity in 312, the Roman emperor Constantine was known to be a member of a cult that worshipped the sun.

According to Bible scholars, the early church chose December 25 as the supposed birth of the Lord Jesus Christ because choosing that date would make the pagans familiar with their own brand of traditional celebration, which fell on the same date. It won’t be hard to convert the pagans, it was believed then, if the church would just adopt an already familiar date.

Jesus Christ has been portrayed in the Bible as the “light of the world.” It was in this context that the pagans who worshipped sun, or moon, or other heavenly bodies would incline to associate the symbolism of Christ to their cultic practices, particularly the worship of the sun.

As centuries went by, Christmas celebrations started to become noisy, joyous, and boisterous to fit in the jovial holidays of the pagan culture.

But some early Christians opposed a happy-type celebration of Christmas. They wanted it to be silent and solemn. In fact, right after the Reformation, certain Protestant churches frowned on Christmas celebration.

Early Christians were divided about Christmas celebration. The Baptists and Puritans, for instance, strongly opposed it, while the Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans accepted it.

By mid-1800s, opposition to Christmas celebration began to wane down. Many schools and churches, particularly in America, started to incorporate Christmas revelries into their activities.

Today Christmas is observed in almost all parts of the world. Though many people, especially in those countries in which Christianity is not the major religion, do not really know the meaning and significance of Christmas, yet they try to associate themselves with those who celebrate Christmas.

In certain countries, malls and department stores who are owned by non-Christians would not mind at all if they display Christmas decorations in their stores and even embrace the bandwagon of Christmas sale.

If a person does not celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason he has – it may be a disapproval to the original concept of Christmas celebration, it does not really make him eccentric or heretic for that matter.

And if a person celebrates Christmas, again for whatever spiritual or material reason he has, it does not make him more spiritual and more admirable than those who don’t.

The message of Christmas is not so much on the birth. The message is on what happened after the birth of Jesus.

Jesus Christ did not remain a baby in a manger, did not remain a boy in a carpenter’s house, and certainly did not remain buried underground covered by a behemoth stone.

The question now is: what is the impact of the risen Christ on our personal lives?

Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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