Here we go again. The holiday season. I love it. I love absolutely every second of it. I love being with my family, all of them. I love all that it entails. I love the religious observances we attach to this time of year. This is a very special and sacred time of year for me.
The following is a question posed to me by a dear friend online and my response. Enjoy.
“i think i may have a thought for you to follow through… i wonder how many false religion holidays christians observe vice versa….“ *edited for readability, not content
You might not like my answer, but here goes. Please, anyone who reads this, understand that I’m talking about the observance of holidays in a historical sense, and not strictly from what I believe or practice myself. I just felt that this approach best answers the question. Holidays are tricky when it comes to study and trying to define the narrow lines of what is a Christian or secular observance is not as easy as most of us would like to think. The big two for Christianity would definitely be Christmas and Easter; but even those are congruent with ancient pagan rites. People get in a big huff about recognizing Christ at Christmas, and for those of us who are believers, it is a season for exactly that; but the historical facts are plain. Holidays happen across all cultures, each one has their own tradition, belief, history, and values they associate with those days. Concerning Christmas, we don’t know the actual date that Jesus was born–through careful study we arrive at a time somewhere between late September and the beginning of November. I just don’t have time to recount all the historical data to back this up; but the gist is that early Christians (most likely 2nd to 3rd century A.D.) took the pagan holidays they observed prior to their conversion and shoe-horned their new found Christian faith onto those holiday.
As a believer, missionary, and family man I observe all of our traditional American holidays with the people I love. I do it according what I believe, and what those holidays mean to me. The truth is that there are few, if any, traditional holidays which don’t have some kind of origins not associated with Christianity. Does that mean we should stop observing them? No! It means we should practice healthy communication about what these holidays mean to us and why we observe them. A healthy understanding of the history associated with them would go a long way too in educating future generations.
We (the Church) are the worst about sending mixed signals at the holidays. We don’t want anyone to hijack Christmas and so we get in a huff when we hear “happy holidays.” Yet, we bring in all this superstition about a mythical fat man traveling around the world delivering toys. We want to make sure that Easter is reserved for acknowledging the resurrection of Christ; but we buy our kids baskets, hide eggs, and talk about Easter Bunnies. Most of this is done innocently enough, and I’m not writing this out of contempt, condemnation, or carelessness. However, we need to appropriate a better understanding of our holidays.
Why would people who don’t recognize the lordship of Christ in the most essential parts of their lives acknowledge or celebrate His birth or resurrection? We don’t own dates on a calendar and even if we tried to; we wouldn’t really know which dates to own. Perhaps, the Church instead should cease to regulate observance of such monumental events to such a specific window of time. Instead we should teach and disciple people to acknowledge these holy moments through a regular practice of a life displaying the fruit of one who celebrates the birth, death, and resurrection of the Incarnate One. I wonder, is God more pleased with our militant defense of the calendar–or with our passionate pursuit of Him?