As the world with major established social views and constantly evolving cultural climate that must equate with what is politically correct changes, the reason for celebrating Christmas, I believe, must remain in our hearts.
I have always regarded Christmas as the day Christ was born.
The history of Christmas is a plethora of historical facts and speculations with which people are acquainted with. The multifarious Christmas traditions abound throughout the Western world ,many of which have antiquated folklore and pagan beliefs for their origins.
From the Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly and ivy ,Christmas turkey, Christmas presents, the Yule log, the Christmas cards, Christmas pudding, Christmas stockings,to the Christmas star for which we also have in the form of parol lanterns here in the Philippines, symbolizing the nova that the 3 Magi followed to witness the nativity of Jesus- even the evergreens and boughs,Christmas stories, and the ever famous Santa Claus known as Sinterklaas in NL and Father Frost or Father Christmas to some- all these touch significant traditions, symbolic decorations and food for the season of giving which is Christmas.A Christmas Philippine lantern commonly known to us locals as the PAROL, showcasing an outstanding array of a myriad of colors green, red and yellow. Notice (kindly click the foto to enlarge) that at the very core is an illuminated image of The Nativity,traditionally known to the Philippines as the BELEN. The 5 images at each point of the star's intersection are visual illuminations of choir angels holding a trumpet- a symbol of announcement heralding the birth of Jesus Christ.
For Christians and even non -believers alike, each with it's own customs and even to some, different days ( The Armenian Apostolic Churches on Jan 6 and Jan 7 for the Eastern Orthodox Churches who still prefer to use the old calendar respectively) for celebrating Christmas , it is noteworthy to observe that some are surprisingly universal and others are just entirely unique as well.
Many a Christmas traditions and activities are so much fun , truly adding gaiety for the entire season, thus, making it hard to just do away with - secularized or otherwise. Personally, the challenge that beset a Christian during Christmas is not to be extremely carried away amidst the flurry of numerous activities and Christmas- related flamboyancy . For the scary part, these very customs and traditions can rob us off the true meaning and existence of and for Christmas. And before you get me wrong, I still enjoy to go along with the flow of all kinds of Christmas festivities and cheer with everyone. After all, these nuances make the celebration of Christmas a worldwide phenomenon.
I personally love passing by a well lit home ,with numerous lights to signify the special season for Christmas. What more if adorned with the Belen ( an image representation of The Nativity) to highlight a home! Carol singing from house-to-house by certain church groups and organized chorale make it a musical experience for me -- and mind you, they come in flocks to our home once the first day of December hits the calendar, and in growing numbers as Christmas nears, lol. It is also only here in the Philippines where Christmas is celebrated with much gusto - imagine celebrating Christmas from December 16, actually the beginning of the dawn mass (Misa de Gallo) for 9 consecutive mornings, and highlighted by the Misa de Aguinaldo (Christmas Eve Mass) on Dec 24 only ending on January 6, the Epiphany. This is not to mention THAT, Filipinos take off Christmas trimmings even until about late February, lol.
The first foto is a graceful lantern illuminating the artfully crafted BELEN itself. An entry to Tarlac's Belenismo 2007, isn't it just awesome! The second foto depicts the whole ensemble of The Nativity scene.
Gift- giving is a practice inherent in every Pinoy Christmas time or not - a kind customary act specially at this yuletide time of the year to even the rest of the world. But it is just "very Pinoy" to give gifts to almost anyone he knows, lol. Now tell me, can you beat that ? I believe that the Pinoys are blessed with this passion for sharing, a good thing indeed. However, for many people (Pinoy or of another race )-whether they care to admit it or not-Christmas is about presents. Well and good in my opinion, albeit the real gift giving should transcend over and above giving and receiving alone.
The gift that God the Father and the Holy Spirit handed for mankind, which is Jesus, our Savior should be enough to make us realize how much loved we are, shouldn't it be? Christmas must be all about love -- the love that we should bring and share to our family and friends-and yes, maybe even to strangers and our enemies--the love that we receive brought by God and handed down to us which must be gladly passed on --the symbol of love, the symbol of Christmas- our eternal gift, our Saviour , Lord Jesus Christ.
All things material are nice to have...but GOD is a MUST HAVE.