What Christmas Means to Me
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells Jingle all the way, is the usual song that can be heard everywhere, the air is cold, streets and houses are brightly lighted and the mood is joyous. There is also a sweet delicious aroma in the air and gifts are generously given. It must be Christmas time once again. The world celebrates this yearly. Different parts of the world have also different traditions in celebrating this season. People in Norway hide their brooms, a tradition that comes back from centuries. St. Nikolaus who travels with a donkey by foot on December 6 and not to be confused with Father Christmas visits children and leaves Sweet treats and toys to the good children all over Germany. Japan on the other hand, has a quirky tradition that emerged recently which is the Kentucky Fried Chicken, Christmas Dinner. Even if you do not understand Japanese, you will celebrate with them for they have a festive Christmas menu on their website. Candles starts the Christmas Season in Colombia which is called the Little Candles Day (Dia de Las Velitas). People places candles and paper lanterns in their balconies, windows or backyards in honor of the Immaculate conception and the Virgin Mary. The Philippines has The Giant Lantern Festival celebrated on a Saturday before the Christmas eve. The aim is to make the biggest and most beautiful lantern which attracts a lot of people from all over the world to come to San Fernando Pampanga. (“11 Weird and Wonderful Christmas Traditions from Around the World”, 2017). Did you know that Philippines celebrate the world’s longest Christmas Season? The Celebrations starts with Christmas Carols heard everywhere from September and usually ends during Epiphany or The Three Kings Day during the first Sunday after January 1 or during the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9. Others might end it until the third Sunday of January during the Feast of the Santo Niño. It is also only in the Philippines that Misa de Gallo or “Simbang Gabi” which is a 9 days Dawn Mass that starts on December 16 is celebrated. This is also the official day where the Christmas season start as mandated by the Philippine Catholic Church and ends on the first Sunday of January during the Feast of Epiphany (“Christmas in the Philippines”, n. d.). Personally lots of fun things and sweet memories are there when I think of Christmas but what does Christmas really mean to me?
Christmas is a festival celebrated yearly to commemorate the Birth of Jesus Christ which is usually observed on December 25 celebrated as a religious and cultural occasion by billions of people around the world (“Christmas”, n. d.). Here is the story of Christmas that I have heard and learned since childhood. Mary, heavily pregnant with Jesus has to travel to Bethlehem with Joseph because a Roman Emperor ordered a census of all people in their hometown. When they arrived, all inns were full but an owner of an inn let them stay in his stable since he saw that Mary is due soon. They slept on hay together with the animals, thus when Mary went into labor and Jesus was born, He was put on a manger. An Angel appeared to shepherds in a nearby field and told them the good news of the birth of the Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. They went to visit Jesus, whom the angel told them that they would find sleeping on a manger. Then from a Far eastern country, three Wise Men saw the brilliant star above where Jesus was born. They had travelled to find and visit the new king. On their trip, King Herod of Judah met with them and told them to let him know where the baby king was so he can also come and worship. The wise men knew that it was not his intention, thus they did not come back the same way. They found Jesus exactly where the star pointed when they came to Bethlehem. They kneeled down and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (“The Birth of Jesus – The Bible Story”, 2016)
I think the real meaning of Christmas are not just from the gifts we received, the bountiful food we have feasted or on how merry and bright our Christmas decorations are but it is from this Christmas Story that I have heard a thousand times during my thirty-one years of existence. First, Christmas is obedience with great faith. Prior to the birth of Christ, the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38, narrates the story of how Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to obey God’s will. She was a virgin but has to give birth to a son whom she has to name, Jesus. In those days, unmarried women who got pregnant are stoned to death but because Mary had great faith in the Lord, she obeyed His will without reluctance and hesitation. If it was any other ordinary woman, with a weak faith, the fear of death and rejection would have come first and foremost rather than her obedience. It is also the same with Joseph. His part of this story is narrated in the gospel of Matthew 1:18-20 where he accepted Jesus as his son. Joseph found Mary pregnant even before they came together and because he was faithful to the law, he would have wanted to divorce her quietly yet the angel of the Lord appeared in his dream and explained Mary’s situation. From then on he accepted Jesus as his own son. Again, if it were any other ordinary man with weak faith, he would have condemned his wife for having relations with other men. In my own opinion, men are prideful if what they own have been touched by others without permission, their pride would be hurt and instinct would tell them to reject it yet Joseph had great Faith that indeed the Lord had given Mary the privilege to have His own begotten be born through her thus he obeyed His will and accepted Mary and Jesus as his family. Second, Christmas is Love. All of what happened above would also not be possible if Love did not exist between, Mary and Joseph. With Faith comes Love for the Lord as well for indeed both Mary and Joseph love the Lord so much that they have obeyed His will without fear. Third, Christmas is Humility. Jesus was born inside a stable and His first bed was a manger. The birth of Jesus is depicted in pictures with a homely sight yet in reality, if you have seen a real stable, it would be damp, smelly and probably dark at their time as there was no electricity. Hay is also not the softest bed you could imagine. It could be prickly or itchy especially for a newborn baby wrap in simple cloth. For Christians, Jesus is the son of God yet he was born in such a humble place. Lastly, Christmas is Generosity more in time than in material things. Although the three wise men indeed gave material gifts to Jesus, which I guess could have been our basis of giving gifts during this season, yet what I think is much more important was the time they gave to Jesus to visit Him. As per the story they came from distant lands. Who on their right mind would travel so far just to visit a baby born on a stable? Yet these three wise men spent their time by travelling far just to visit Jesus. This is also true to the shepherds who came to visit Jesus before the wise men. Shepherds are not wealthy people in Jesus time yet when The Angel told them the good news, they went and seek for Jesus. They gave Him a gift I think more precious than gold, frankincense and myrrh, that is, their time.
It is important to remember these things every time we celebrate Christmas. Let us be obedient with great faith. I believe that God has a reason for every challenging situation that happens in our life and that we should not fear and obey with great faith for he will surely redeem us. Love should also be spread with our family and friends and even to a wider circle of your community and society so that, we can lessen the hate in this world. And whatever we do, or whatever we become, let us continue to be humble for even the Lord our God has humbled himself to be with us in our earthly journey. Spend time with our Love ones. Time is more precious than any material things in this world, and the good news? It’s free. We can spend a lot of time with people dear to our hearts and to those who needs us without losing a single centavo. May we all have a wonderful Christmas this year.
- 11 Weird and Wonderful Christmas Traditions in the World, (2017), Momondo. Retrieved from https://www.momondo.com/inspiration/christmas-traditions-around-the-world/
- Christmas, (n.d.), from Wikipedia retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas on December 24, 2017
- Christmas in the Philippines, (n. d.), from Wikipedia retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_the_Philippines on Decemebr 25, 2017
- The Birth of Jesus – The Bible Story, (2016) Retrieve from https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/birth-of-jesus.html