I say, let’s take Christ out of Christmas. It would solve a big problem for us religious types.
The problem, of course, is the commercialization of Christmas. Sometime between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving, say in mid-November, the Christmas season begins in earnest. North Americans make pilgrimage to their malls to shop and to see Santa and his little helpers in their crimson miniskirts. None of us is very surprised when our little kids ask if the wise men came to Bethlehem in a sleigh pulled by Rudolph.
The bottom line is that even though we all dutifully tip our hats to the real meaning of Christmas, all of us know that Christ comes in a poor second to parties and decorations, gift giving and receiving, shopping and credit card exhaustion.
So, I say let’s turn the other cheek. Instead of letting modern culture squeeze Christ out of Christmas, Christians should just volunteer to take Christ out of Christmas, and pick another day to celebrate his birth. December 25 was always a sort of suspicious date, anyway. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine (312-337) who chose December 25 for Christmas, since nobody knew when Jesus was really born. But he chose that date because he wanted to replace the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, the day on which the sun is “reborn,” with a holy day celebrating another birth. The Romans may have been okay with giving up paganism, but they didn’t want to give up the partying.
But now so little is left of Christ in Christmas that I don’t think anyone would notice if Christians moved the celebration of his birth to some other date. December 25 could then be officially renamed “Xmas.” Just think of the advantages. Christians wouldn’t be faced with the difficult task of keeping the real meaning of Christmas alive for our children anymore. We wouldn’t have to hassle with conflicts between Sunday School Christmas programs and office Xmas parties. We could open presents on Xmas morning without feeling like we are shortchanging the memory of Jesus’ birth into a life of rejection and suffering. We wouldn’t have to explain how Christmas joy is about a lamb being born to the slaughter rather than about eating as much turkey as we want.
A less-hyped Christmas would also help us properly stress the celebration that is the real heart of the Christian calendar, Easter. That is, assuming we can hold the line against the Easter bunny and chocolate egg hunts.
Let’s move Christmas to another day. I think Jesus would approve. It doesn’t much matter what new date we choose for the real Christmas. I’m thinking June 25 might work. You see, my wife’s birthday is December 25, and I’ve already figured out that by honoring her birthday with a gift on June 25, her birthday doesn’t get lost with everything else on Xmas Day.
And in the end, isn’t that what we want for Jesus too? That he doesn’t get lost?