More and more Christians are not celebrating Christmas. There are many reasons for this, among them that it’s not really the date of Jesus’ birth, that it is a pagan festival**, and that it has been over commercialized and watered down to a story about a fat man in a suit who eats your cookies, breaks into your house to bring you presents if you were nice, or breaks into your house to give you lumps of coal if you were naughty (seriously, why bother?). No, it’s not the real date of Jesus’ birth. Yes, the traditions of Christmas (including the tree) have their roots in a pagan celebration. Yes, it has been over commercialized and is all about Santa for most of the world.
Does that mean I will stop celebrating the birth my Christ, my Savior and King? Absolutely not. Things like Christmas have no meaning other than what we attach to them. When I celebrate Christmas, I am certainly not taking part in a near-idolization of some dude in the North Pole (although I see no harm in the guy…I, too, used to write him letters when I was small). I am celebrating the birthday of my Lord and King, the day he came to earth as a man to live out his life with the full knowledge that he was going to die for us. For me. So that I can be free. So that we can know his love eternal, and be freed from sin and death.
The tree and the presents and the day are nice traditions, not directly Bible-based, but not meaningless either. Christ gave us his life; giving presents is a beautiful way to honor that first, great gift. If he were still physically here on earth, we would be giving him birthday presents just like anyone else, so instead we give to one another. We spend time with one another and fellowship with each other, both with believers and non-believers. We rest and do things we enjoy. So far, none of this is contrary to the Bible. Where it all goes wrong is when any of these things become an obsession and/or more important than remembering why we are celebrating. The stress, the present frenzy, and the overeating are not glorifying to God, nor are they Biblical.
I think that there is something to be said about the world celebrating Christmas. It is called CHRISTmas, not Paganmas or Solsticemas. People of all faiths and backgrounds and races and cultures celebrate Christmas, and whether or not they believe in Jesus, I think that this is kind of spectacular. It would be a gigantic ironical shame if the rest of the world kept celebrating and we, His own, blood-bought people, ceased to do so.
Happy birthday, Jesus. May the angels and all the earth sing your praises even louder.
**One of the reasons why Christmas was moved to fall on the same date as the pagan festival is so that Christians, who were being heavily persecuted, could celebrate the birth of Christ without being afraid of being discovered. Their celebrations went unmarked, since everyone else was celebrating too. Not a bad reason, in my opinion.