Christmas is a celebration of peace and goodwill that has been embraced by cultures worldwide – and for good reason.
While many Christians choose to mark Dec. 25 specifically as the birth of Jesus – one of the keystones of Christian faith – the festivities surrounding the date have underlying themes that are universal for all humans without hate in their hearts.
While Hanukkah (Dec. 16 to Dec. 24) commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after a successful revolt in the second century BC, in a broader, symbolic sense the lighting of the menorah represents the triumph of light over dark, of good over evil and injustice.
And while Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 to Jan.1) was created in 1965 to celebrate African-American and Pan-African culture, its avowal of traditional principles of unity, family, brotherhood, and contribution to community through work and creativity can serve as an inspiration to many others, whatever their heritage.
There are other celebrations in December – some well-known, others obscure, some humourous or downright iconoclastic. But all, on some level, are about goodwill and a commitment to shared values.
There are plenty of signs that the spirit of Christ is back in Christmas (if He ever left) – some of them from other cultures who have no problem with the existence of a Christian celebration.
And while some will look around and decry signs of a commercialized, materialistic Christmas, it’s evident that most ordinary people these days are doing their best to strive for a balance, to check runaway expenditure and concentrate on celebrating the really important things, like home and family – or extended family – and good fellowship. We have enough evidence of misfortune around us to make us value the blessings we have and not the material goods we covet.
Most of us feel it is well to pause at this time, at the end of the year, to ponder and re-commit to principles that are central to all races and religions, that are held dear by both the spiritual and those who consider themselves atheistic or agnostic.
Particularly at times when bad news and grim headlines can bring us to the brink of despair, we need messages of positivity and the simple understanding that others share our fundamental good will and desire for a better, brighter world.