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What is the meaning of Christmas?

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February 9, 2012 by admin

This festive season is traditionally a time when Christians get their knickers in a twist about the ‘meaning’ of Christmas. As usual, the traditionalists are loudly moaning about Xmas being devalued by materialism, about people forgetting why Christ was put on this planet (you know, the one about how he came to absolve us of sin – something invented for no apparent reason by his father).

Cathy Lynn Grossman has a nice piece about this over at USA Today. She reports:

Christmas without the specter of the cross, without awareness that this is a baby born to die for mankind’s sins, is a fancied-up fraud, says Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, and associate pastor at Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, Calif.

There are some slight surprises in the piece, too. One spokesperson for an interfaith organisation actually confesses that the US “is becoming a secular society” and that peace, goodwill to all people and generally ethical behaviour might be more important than archaic rituals and dogma. Quite.

But let’s not dismiss history and tradition entirely. There are good reasons for celebrating at this time of year.

So, what is Christmas all about? The Winter solstice, of course, when the days start to get longer again and we can look forward to Spring. This was a festival linked directly to nature – to an important marker in daily life that concerned the environment we all share, beyond the petty fantasies that a more ignorant age liked to concoct. It’s a shame the Christians stole it.

If you want to get back to the real meaning of this festival, forget about Christ.

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