We have reached the official start of the Christmas season. Anymore it actually seems like the the "Christmas season " is starting earlier and earlier, in fact I believe that Wal-mart began putting decoration out before Halloween. It's really gotten kind of silly, because you've got Freddy Cruger and Dracula at one end of the store and Santa and Christmas trees at the other.
So what is this "Christmas" I'm speaking of. Ok, some of you may say that's a dumb question, but in today's world is it really that bad of a question? What is Christmas? What does this time of the year really mean? Well in this pluralistic age this is not the easiest question to answer. However I think I can answer it or at least try.
Christmas as we know it today is a hodgepodge. A mishmash of cultural and religious celebrations and traditions. The Christmas tree comes from Germanic and northern European religious traditions. The day itself ,December 25th, comes from various winter solstice traditions. The tradition of giving presents seems to have come from St Nicholas a 4th century saint, as well as other pagan gift giving traditions. The famous and sometimes infamous nativity scene depicts the birth of Jesus Christ.( see the Christmas Wiki for additional details)
I ask the question again...what is the meaning of Christmas. Can we get the meaning of Christmas out of any of these traditions? Many of these pagan traditions predate Christ. So is this the meaning of the season, celebrating the winter solstice and honoring pagan gods? Another possibility is the celebration of wealth and materialism that kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. If this either of these are the meaning of Christmas, then why call it...Christmas? Yule or Solstice day or Saturnalia, or there may be others that fit these meaning better.
So if we're not getting the meaning of Christmas from the origins of the actual traditions that we use, so we must divine the meaning of the season from the name we give the season. Christmas or Christ - mass, the root here is Christ. Christ mass, or the Mass of Christ, these words actually mean death of Christ however the meaning we've assigned to the word Christmas is the birth of Christ. So the meaning for the season based on the name association is literally the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.