The True Meaning of Christmas

This entry was posted by on Tuesday, 23 November, 2004 at

Last weekend I worked at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at a mall in Temecula. (Yeah, I know, it’s November.) As we were tearing down, many folks felt no particular need to avoid walking through an area where people were tearing stuff down, and frequently asked what had the event had been. I was never actually questioned by one, by I became filled with what I can only describe as the sick and twisted desire to explain to a poor child exactly what was going on here.

You see, this mall put on quite an elaborate production climaxing with the arrival of Santa Claus, so that parents would come to the mall and spend money in all the lovely businesses that were good enough to host this event. Someone even told me once that Santa Claus himself is an invention of the Coca-Cola company (a claim which I personally think is nonsense, but I never looked into it.) Regardless, the children do get the opportunity to tell Santa whatever they want for Christmas with the expectation that they will magically receive it, promoting consumerism as early as kids are old enough to understand it.

Why do we do this? As it turns out, this is all in celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ah, but there’s more. Back in Roman times, Christianity was not the only game in town offering a savior god. When a certain Roman Emperor (Constantine?) converted to Christianity, it is my understanding that entrepreneuring Christians simply decided that December 25th, the birthday of his favorite savior-god Mithras, was actually the birthday of Jesus.

So, when was Jesus born? Well, I would be suspicious of any answer to this question other than “The Bible doesn’t say.” Is this important? I don’t know, do you think it would bother Martin Luther King that we always celebrate his birthday on a Monday, regardless of when it actually occurs? Or would he be honored that we celebrate it at all?

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