Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Being Jewish at Christmas

Last March, I heard a DJ talking about March Madness, the annual insanity surrounding a college basketball tournament. She wasn't interested in it, but everyone in her office was obsessed with it. They had an office pool, a constant barrage of emails and parties to watch every game on TV. The DJ didn't want to be a part of it, but her co-workers pressured her to get involved. They tried to get her to participate in the pool, but she insisted that she didn't even know the names of the teams. Her co-workers assured her that it didn't matter who she bet on, it would be fun to play. They wouldn't take no for an answer. She wasn't trying to spoil their fun, but she wanted to be left alone.

As I heard her talk about her frustration, I thought, "Now you know how it feels to be Jewish at Christmas."

Think of something that you're not interested in but that everybody else seems to be talking about. Maybe it's a sporting event: March Madness, the Superbowl, the Olympics, or the World Series. Maybe it's the latest "reality" TV craze: Survivor, American Idol or The Swan. Maybe it's something political: the election, the war in Iraq or the latest political sex scandal. Maybe it's the "trial of the century" du jour: OJ Simpson, Martha Stewart or Scott Peterson. You can't get away from it: it's on TV and radio, newspapers and magazines. Everyone is talking about it, and expects you to express an opinion on it. You aren't interested and just wish everyone would leave you alone.

Now magnify that feeling a hundredfold, because there is nothing that permeates our culture as thoroughly as Christmas does. It's on TV news, programs and commercials. It's in radio music, the news, chat and commercials. Some radio stations go to a 24/7 Christmas music program as early as Thanksgiving or even earlier. It's in the mall, in every store. It's in the supermarket. It's on the lampposts along Main Street. It's in the post office and every other government building. It's in your office. It's on the lawn of everyone in your neighborhood, and if it's not on your lawn, the neighbors want to know why it's not.

And that is the worst part of it: no one will respect your desire to skip the holiday. Yeah, sure, you're Jewish, but Christmas isn't a Christian holiday, they will tell you. It's everybody's holiday, they say, it's a secular holiday, which means you're not allowed to "just say no." And even if you're not going to celebrate Christmas, they say, you can celebrate Chanukkah, which in their minds is just Jewish Christmas. After all, isn't Chanukkah about peace on Earth, good will towards men, and of course PRESENTS???

But Chanukkah is not about any of these things. Chanukkah is about a struggle for Jews to maintain their distinctiveness in a culture that tried to force us to do things the way everybody else did. Sound familiar? In ancient Greece and in America today, it is the same struggle, and it is a struggle that we lose a little bit every time a Jew celebrates Chanukkah as Jewish Christmas, every time we use dreidels as ornaments on a Chanukkah bush.

See:
Chanukkah on Judaism 101
What Do Jews Do on Christmas? at Judaism 101

22 comments:

Rachel said...

Why do you spell Chanukah with two "k"s? To the best of my knowledge, there is no dagesh in the word that would necessitate the second "k".

Just wondering.

JewFAQ said...

Boring Hebrew Grammar Alert:
Actually, there is a dagesh (dot) in the Hebrew letter that makes the sound "k" in this word, but it is a dagesh lene (one that changes the sound of a letter) rather than a dagesh forte (one that doubles the letter), so you are quite correct in pointing out that it might be more accurate to use only one "k" when transliterating it to English. I'm in the habit of doubling the English regardless of the kind of dagesh, and I'm fairly consistent about that, so I'm trying not to confuse myself.

Searching Google, I see that Chanukkah is a fairly common transliteration of the word, though Chanukah is more common. Believe it or not the most common spelling is Hanukkah! Hanukah is also common. Spellings without the final H are less common.

I'm always amused to see how many different ways people try to spell Chanukkah when searching for the holiday on my website. I program my search engine to catch variant spellings and change them to the spelling I use, based on records of failed searches. This year's additions to the spell-check list: honica, chanahah, chanahka, chanaka, chanakkauh, chanakkuha, chanauka, chanekah, chanunaka, honaka and haunika, among others. I also added menorrah, manora and minora to my spell-checker. I did not, however, fix the spelling of Cristmas, Chistmas, Christimas or Christmass. ;^}

sally2004 said...

Hello. Try being a Noahide during xmas. I am gentile, but I do not celebrate xmas. I am Noahide and follow the 7 laws of Noah.

I do not attend the office "holiday" party. No matter what they call it, it ends up being a xmas party. I attended my cousin's xmas party two years ago. She is well aware that we do not celebrate xmas. I went because in the past, family parties have always been about mingling, catching up, laughing, eating and drinking. But for some reason, her party was not like that at all.

We walked in and my cousin's husband was playing guitar with his brother and everyone was gathered around them in the formal living room. When my husband and I first arrived, my cousin greeted us and took us to the back to hang our coats. I immediately felt uncomfortable. She offered us a drink, and we accepted. We sat down and started chatting about school. Around 20 minutes later, my cousin's sister came to where we were and told us to go to the living room where everyone was. As I mentioned before, everyone was singing xmas carols.

My husband and I reluctantly went to the living room, and someone shoved a sheet of xmas songs to my face. At that moment, I did not know what to do. Were they mocking us? I didn't know what to think. We had never done this before.

We sang the 12 days of xmas and our part was "5 golden rings," which we went along and sang. Shortly after the song was over, we got up and left.

I gave my cousin the benefit of the doubt. We had never celebrated xmas in the past like that before. She recently got married, so I figured this was the way her new husband celebrated. I don't know. That was 3 years ago. Last year, she invited us for xmas and we declined. This year, she invited us again, and said to bring a gift for the white elephant gift exchange. Once again, we politely declined.

My family is xtian. We don't mind mingling with them since we are family. They hate leaving us out of celebrations. We tell them that it's okay. We don't feel left out, plus we understand the whole xmas party thing.

Anyway, that's my story. Thanks for starting this blog.

Rhianna said...

Okay, what's with the "X"? I was raised Christian so I just get a bit irked with it. I was wondering if it is some form of disrespect due to the cross = Christ.

I celebrate Christmas for my children, but not as a religious holiday. It is WAY too comercialized to be a true High Holy Day any longer. We give each of our dinner guests a small gift, but we mainly celebrate being together, safe, and happy as opposed to the materialistic or religious side of things. Besides, I doubt Christ was born on 25 December...more likely in the summer to early autum. As for the Christmas music and decorations before Thanksgiving, or even 15 December, I'm with you all the way! It is the same way with Easter, too. Be thankful your holidays aren't such blatent attempts for corporations to make money, and you aren't a sheep to go along with it. It takes strenght of will and steadfastness to your religion to not go along, and I really appreciate and applaud you.

For those that won't let you not celebrate, please remember that just because some who profess Christianity are rude doesn't make all Christians rude. Christ was a Jew for Heaven's sake, so I try to remember the Jewish holidays too, if not do the full Kosher deal. (We don't have a Rabbi on our base, so I just sort-of do it on my own.) That said, I remember Christmas in my heart as a religious holiday, though I don't celebrate it in December.

Chanukkah is the Festival of Lights. It celebrates victory over oppression and YHWH bringing the miracle of the oil. I guess some Americans are so caught up in the "gimme, gimme, gimme" as to miss the fact not every holiday is a day off work with some presents. I'm sorry for that myself, but I don't hold everyone to blame for it.

Chanukkah bush? Are you serious? From an 'outsider/Gentile' I'd rather have the Mennorah, a dreidel and gelt than a lame attempt at assimilation, or what passes for a religious holiday of late. Please, don't do it, and tell anyone that gets nosy about your religion that you celebrate what you want, when you want. I'm sorry to hear you get the 3rd degree for being 'different'.

Thanks for the interesting post, and the really great recipes on your site.

JewFAQ said...

Regarding "Xmas" :

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a disrespectful slur, but comes from an ancient Christian tradition of using an X as a substitute for the name "Christ." In Greek, the first letter of that name is Chi, which looks just like an X in English, so this abbreviation apparently dates back to a time when most Christians spoke Greek.

See Snopes Urban Legend Reference Pages on Xmas

Rhianna said...

Thank you, ma'am. I never knew that. :)

Easy Writer said...

I grew up as a African-American non-Christian in a mostly Jewish cultural environment. I was surrounded by a primarily Jewish culture and learned more about Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, and Chanukkah then about Easter and Christmas. Ii can be a bit overwhelming to be a person who is a minority in situations such as these.

I do not claim to completely understand what it might feel to be innundated by the vast cultural influence of the mass marketing campaign of Christmas. However, as an adult, at the age of 30, I became a Christian (I am 33 now). I recently became a Catholic Christian this past Christmas of 2004.

Christmas, or the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, has an enormous significance in the spiritual lives of Christians who actively participate in their religious devotional lives throughout the year.

It is significant because it the marks the end of the Advent season, which begins the religious year for Christians (seems along the same line of thought as I have read that Rosh Hashannah is for the Jewish people - feel free to correct me if I am mistaken), it is a time of reflection for us as we seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, and Christmas is, of course, a celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

Whether the vast majority of people seek to celebrate this significance does not matter. The religious significance should not be ignored because of the commercialism. There are semi-religious Christians who celebrate Christmas and come to Church only on Easter and Christmas, just like there are semi-religious Jews who come only on High Holidays. I wouldn't want anyone to feel as if this was down-played or ignored by the comments made on this blog. Religious tolerance and understanding really goes all ways.

Further, it's a matter of ignorance of Jewish holidays that people regard Chanukkah as "Jewish Christmas." They really don't know that it's a commemoration of God's grace to maintain the strength and existence of the Jewish people. They see the blue and white wrapping paper along with the green and red wrapping paper in Walmart. Where are they going to learn this information unless you tell them the true meaning of Chanukkah? In Sunday School in a Christian Church?

My central point is this: perhaps rather than declining without explanation,you can decline with explanation. I can't say for sure whether it has or hasn't been done by the posts, but it's been my experience that it takes a person 7 times to understand something, so I don't have a problem repeating myself over and over until they get it. It will aid the entire world in achieving a bigger sense of religious tolerance and understanding.

A comment to the Website owner - Your Web site is magnificent. I have studied Judaism before in college. However, I have sought this Web site as a refresher as a means of understanding the roots of my own religion. After all, without Judaism, there would be no Islam or Christianity.

JewFAQ said...

Regarding declining with an explanation:
I've tried. Most people don't want to hear any explanation, at least not anywhere near Christmas. They'll listen in April or September if you're telling them about all of the Jewish holidays and you explain that Chanukkah isn't Jewish Christmas. But try to tell someone in December that you don't celebrate Christmas and Chanukkah isn't Jewish Christmas, that you don't want to get caught up in the overwhelming season... if you're lucky, they'll just try to convince you that Christmas isn't religious; if you're unlucky, they'll accuse you of being a Scrooge or a Grinch.

yadaelroiy said...

Just say no... There isn't much point in celebrating something you don't believe in. I celebrate Christmas as a "religious" holiday because of my experience with the One whose "birthday" it is.

I love this website because it supports things I've learned in the Old testament, New, and in the Spirit.

G_D bless You!

Barthnathanj said...

Christmas was a religous holiday but It has become secularitized. I too have had a experience with the one who bithday it is. Jesus' actual birthday is unknow ,so we celebrate it on Deember 25. Christmas has CHRIST in it. If you don't want to celebrate Christmas,you should not have too.

ziva said...

I'm the only Jew at work. There are ten of us and we're a pretty close group. Every year at Christmas we have a "holiday" luncheon. Of course this follows gift exchange around the tree etc. Every year I get asked if I'd like to put up Chanukah decorations and of course every year I decline and explain that the two holdays have nothing to do with each other. I've been working there 10 years, and I can say that I'm slowly getting them educated but they've never gotton "it" this year I'm printing your post and showing it too a couple of people. I think it will open their eyes. Thanks

kimthazme said...

Just a couple comments. I'm a Christian and yes, Christmas is really special to me. I would imagine it has become too commercialized for pretty much everyone except store owners who enjoy the big profits (so has Halloween, 4th of July and and Back to School days for that matter!)
Honestly, I have a great love and interest in Judaism. I spend as much time in the Old Testament as the New and if I had the chance to sit down with a Jew and discuss their personal experience as a Jew or their thoughts towards Christianity or anything, I would love it. As for the Noahide, I've never heard of that and I find it sad that you assume your relatives are being rude. I doubt that their intention was to disrespect you. What 7 laws of Noah? I'll see if I can do a search on that.

ShambleS said...

as far as im concerned being agnostic.
hristmast was a holiday every 1 celebrated untill the christians stole it.

there was always a celebration around the end of december it was always AFTER ths shortest day "21st"
It was a celebration that the days would get longer and that we would now be able to plan when to plant our crops.

So really, jewish people used to celebrate this holiday like every 1 els.
And have only stoped since the cristians stole it and said it was jesus's birthday.

Hilary Lee Fergenson said...

As a Unitarian Universalist who grew up celebrating both Christmas and Chanukah, or having a double celebration of "Christmukah," I can relate very well to what Shambles wrote. For one thing, I think that it is a blessing to have a multiple holiday celebration. Also, since Christ along with the people who started the original tradition of celebrating Christmas were all Jews, it is rather contradictory as well as hypocritical to discourage anybody with an ancestral background in Judaism from even partaking in the most secular aspects of Christmas. In addition, what you choose to celebrate is your own choice, and it would be very cold-hearted and rude to discourage or prevent a non-Christian from putting up a Christmas tree and/or getting his/her picture taken with Santa Claus by saying "You should not be doing this because it is not your holiday." Depending on what you make of it, Christmas can potentially be everybody's holiday, and even if you are not so interested in Christmas, that does not give you the right to hinder somebody else's enjoyment and act like a wet blanket by steering a person away from something that he/she is very passionate about and finds intrinsically meaningful. If you are going to interfere with somebody else's pleasure and happiness, then people will see you as a Scrooge or a Grinch.

JewFAQ said...

Hilary, thank you for proving my point: you do not respect my right to choose not to participate in your holiday. I'm not stopping you or anyone else from doing whatever you want for your holiday, but I am somehow spoiling your fun if I don't celebrate it to your satisfaction. This is precisely the reason so many Jews are uncomfortable with Christmas.

Perhaps Jews would not be so uncomfortable about Christmas if Christians were not so unrelentingly insistent that Jews celebrate to their satisfaction. Certainly, we don't see this sort of tension over Easter.

Jason said...

Hello,
I happened on this article by accident but wanted to add a little perspective. I am a Christian and also am pro Jewish including middle east politics.
However, as I said, I am a Christian and though Easter is most important, Christmas is our biggest holiday, even if it has been twisted out of shape. I don't know what feelings and emotions crop up for Jews around Chanukah but for Christians, (practicing or not), Christmas involves far more than a religious holiday. It is like the holiday version of a Normal Rockwell painting. It is just as much about nastolgia as it is Christ. Christ should come first but so much else is involved. It is part of the reason the Christmas season invokes so many into a depression because the music, the smells the entire atmosphere bring forth such strong emmotional memories etc. I believe this is why the movie "A Christmas Story" is so popular because it ties so many to childhood as well as to what most people think of as a simpler time, even if you weren't around in the late '30s. My point? Well, if you are a Jew or anything else and some folks are trying to get you involved in Christmas I bet you it has more to do with this than with Christ. As a Christian I have to say that is a bad thing, but it is true. The feelings and hopefully joy that they feel is so that they want to share it with others. I have a friend that is Hindu and he loves Christmas. He'll never fully grasp the emmotional side I see but he enjoys all that revolves around Christmas. So I hope you will consider joining in. HOWEVER, if you don't want to, please don't be upset with those who try to include you. And please don't expect true Christians to call it "the holiday". I wish people would stop trying to wrap it in a politically correct bandage. Even if you are still waiting on your Massiah, behind all the lights and presents is God's love and love of one another. I wish you a Happy Chunakah even if I am not sure of the correct spelling and I hope you can wish me a Merry Christmas. And if you feel like joining in please do. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy the fellowship of Christmas.
Jason Litz

Jason said...

One other point I should make about Christmas from a Christian perspective is that, and it is sad, most people claiming to be Christian do not look at Christmas as a religious holiday or if they do, it takes a back seat to everything else. Like I said in my previous post, there is a great deal more to Christmas than Christ, some good some bad. Easter is more subdued as traditions are more subdued. This is just how the two holidays have evolved but I would say that most true Christians treat Easter in a more solomn, respectful way and so they should. Christ never asked us to remember His birth but He did ask us to remember His death and resurection. Easter is definitely more a day of worship as it should be. Christmas is more like a huge birthday party where the participants often forget who's birthday they are celebrating. Everyone's invited and if you don't bring a present or even know who's birthday it is most people won't notice. It should be more respectful but at least it is normally joyful and a time when so many bad things, thoughts, etc can be put aside. I invite everyone and if you don't feel comfortable I understand and do hope you will reconsider because I want to include you and have you feel comfortable. All I ask from anyone is not to expect me to mask Christmas with political correctness. And if any Christians are reading this and are guilty of being mean, being intolerant, or in short, doing or saying anything bad to a non-Christian shame on you. Remember you are Christ's representative and though I don't expect you avoid talking about Christ or Christmas, (though baggering someone doens't help Christ's cause but examples do), Jesus expects you to act as He would. Remember, Jesus was a Jew too. :-)
Jason Litz

David Ben-Ariel said...

The Lost Ten Tribes are considered, for all intents and purposes, Gentile - and it's their world you live in: the Gentilized Israelite world. Of course, you could follow Judaism to the Jewish Homeland...

I'm a biblical Christian and have nothing to do with the baptized paganism of "the mass of Christ." Christmas is Catholic - not Christian.

Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas

Jason said...

David,
You say that Christmas is Catholic not Christian. I don't really follow what you mean. I'm Baptist, I have relatives that are Methodist and I know many other protestant Christians of various flavors and they all celebrate Christmas. I've known of a handful that put the nix on Santa but I don't know if that is necessary. I guess my points that I would like to make here are three. First, it doesn't really matter if the tradition of celebrating Christmas stems from Catholicism. Christ had a birth day, when we don't know for sure but we celebrate it because we want to. Not because he asked us to because he didn't, he only asked us to remember his death and resurrection. We celebrate it just as most people celebrate birthdays for anyone. By that I mean that though we might not have to celebrate Christmas we don't "have" to celebrate any birthday or anything else for that matter that is not Biblical. We do it, (OR SHOULD DO IT), because we enjoy it and the focus it brings to Jesus and what he stands for.
My second point would be that sure, there are some things wrapped around Christmas that are over the top. We do get bogged down in the gift giving and hopefully it is the giving and not the receiving side we are bogged down in if that is the case. Christmas is very commercial, sure. though I long for "the old days" when the complaint about Christmas was that it was "becoming too commercial". Nowadays the retailers want to still make all that money without actually acknowledging the name of the holiday in fear of offending non-Christians who, aren't doing 90% of the shopping around this period. But my second point is that just because there are problems with it doesn't mean we need to throw it out. We can individually work to make changes and I know I have done a lot to make Christmas more enjoyable for our family by just cutting out some things that just put a strain on us.
It's late and I am losing my train of thought but I believe my third point I wanted to make was about those items that are "pagan" in origin or otherwise not Biblical. I don't look at my Christmas tree and think there is something wrong with it because Jesus didn't have one. By pagan I always mean someone who worships something other than The One True God and I usually think of idols or trees or something. I don't know which story is true about the Christmas tree, I know a good deal of it had to do with it being an evergreen and the longing for Spring. I don't think anyone worshipped it and I know I don't. I don't think Jesus minds my tree at all because He knows my heart and the reasons why I put it up. Motives mean as much or more than the actions they spawn. It might be odd that we take a tree, drag it inside and decorate it but it is still just a decoration and when you think about it, anything that is purely decoration is arbitrary, not matter the date on the calendar. Though I know that much of what I love about the decorations are nostalgic having grown up with it all my life, I still think anyone who just showed up from somewhere that knew nothing of Christmas would find them attractive. The reds and greens soothing I think. They might wonder about the tree in the house but people put other trees and plants in the house. So my point that I want to make is who cares where these various traditions come from. I'm not placing these decorations up for any reason than for decoration, tradition and my enjoyment. I am decorating for a birthday party, a very special one.
I don't care if you or anyone else wishes to not celebrate Christmas and every year there are thousands upon thousands of people who do celebrate it that wish it would just get over with because they let themselves get so strung out on all the extraneous.
So I hope everyone finds joy in December however you slice it. I hope that anyone who doesn't know Jesus as Messiah will look at the Biblical evidence and not take someone's word for it either way and if you actually read this far thanks for taking the time to read my long post. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

David Ben-Ariel said...

Jason,

Bottom line is there's no excuse for Christmas. Yeshua upheld the Law and the Prophets, magnified their meaning to include the spirit and not just the letter of the law, and pagan holidays wrapped up as Christian break both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The bloody Roman Catholic "mass of Christ" is nothing but a whitewashed pagan festival that both the Bible and history condemn. Why remain in denial? Let the plain truth set you free, so help you God.

Christmas is About Giving -- Says Who?

Will God Curse Our Countries for Christmas?

David Ben-Ariel said...

This is from a friend overseas who doesn't have a Google account, so I'm posting it for her, even though I disagree with it:

YEHUDITE said...

Happy Christmas to everybody who celebrates it, from a Jewish Lady who really enjoys Christmas without any complexes.

Unlike Easter, Christmas is not a time for Christians to go around massacring Jews for 'killing Christ.' In fact, it celebrates the birth of a Jew who, as the British carol, Noel, Noel notes: "Born is the king of Israel.."

Moreover, it is unlikely Jesus was born in the midst of winter. Judean shepherds did not tend their flocks in the fields around Bethlehem during freezing winter nights, especially snowy ones. That was routine during the hot season which in Israel usually runs from May to October.

That's my point of view on Christmas and I hope no one is upset by it.

So, once again, Happy Christmas to one and all, and May Peace Reign on Earth -- as soon as possible!

Jason said...

David,
You are correct in that there is no Biblical basis for Christmas. As I have stated before, Christ asked us to remember His death and resurrection not His birth. However, He didn't say we had to forget about it either. But the contrary is true in that both Matthew and Luke begin with the Christmas story. And there is one key line that must not be forgotten "Today, unto YOU is born in Bethlehem, a Savior which is Christ the Lord!" That is a message that is the key for not only the Christmas story but the entire story of Jesus. My point is that Jesus’ birth adds to the story and it not an insignificant point of fact. With that being said I think one can hardly be expected to believe that if anyone ever puts a date to Christ's birth, correct or not, people are going to celebrate some sort of Holiday for Christ's birth. Ok, the names stems from Christ Messe or "The Mass of Christ" but our Christmas traditions draw from many arenas. Just as a biscuit in the US is a quick bread and in England its basically a cookie, there are now multiple definitions of the word Christmas. The origin of the name might stem from the Mass of Christ but I am sure that little of what we all call Christmas resembles the Mass of Christ. My bottom line point here is that Christmas to me has nothing to do with any pagans. Had some pagan used an evergreen for idol worship and that was directly where our Christmas tree tradition spawned then I would have a concern there. But the longing for Spring in the old world where Winter was far more of a hardship doesn't constitute idol worship and the tree as well as well as all our other traditions that revolve around Christmas have a long enough track record in our definition of Christmas that I think they deserve to stand as our Christmas traditions under our definition of Christmas and can sever the ties with their origins. I know when I put up a tree or do anything else having to do with Christmas that I don't think about pagans and I definitely don't think about the Mass of Christ. And one last comment about traditions, new ones are being formed all the time. I forget which network it is now but it has made a tradition the last few years of playing the movie "A Christmas Story" for 24 hours straight starting Christmas Eve. That certainly has no pagan roots and my guess is the Good Lord likes it too, perhaps with some caveats.

I know there are those who don't even celebrate family birthdays because they think that no day should stand out above the rest. There is no Biblical basis for that. God didn't put us into a boring bland world with nothing to celebrate or look forward to. All He asks is that He be the center of it.
As for Jewish Law, for a Christian the New Testament supersedes the old. Now much of the old remains in tact, don't get me wrong. But some of these traditions could be argued not to apply to anyone but those of the Hebrew faith. Take the Passover. Many Christians observe it but it is meant to commemorate the Angel of death passing over the houses of the Jews as it took the first born of Egypt. There are many Christians today who do not stem from a Jewish background at all. A good example would be any Christian Egyptians. :-) Their observance of it is doubtfully a problem but perhaps it could be argued that it doesn't actually apply to them. My point here is that Christians can't take the Jewish law verbatim because Christians are not Hebrews. The two share the same God but Christians have found the prophesied Messiah.
But to conclude directly about Christmas, my Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth as well as a speed bump to slow me down and make me take stock in my blessings as well as give me a boost for another year just as Sunday worship should do for the week. And another important thing about Christmas, it is a vehicle to which millions are exposed to Christ every year.
Jesus said that it is not what goes in a man that makes him unclean but what comes forth from him. He also condemned those who would make a show of grandeur in the church to have others see them as great men rather than focusing on God. Church was to put them at the center of attention not God. And Paul scolded when he said that one believer should not place an obstacle in the path of another, less confident in his faith. If one man believes he shouldn't eat what he perceives as unclean and does so for the glory of God he is still the equal the first who eats it, strong in his faith in the teachings of Christ. (See the first sentence of this paragraph.) My point here is that it is all about what a man says and does, coupled with his motives that the Lord concerns Himself with. I can give all my money to the poor but if I do so to gain human recognition the Lord is displeased. So when I celebrate Christmas I do so for the love shown by God to all mankind in his sending of His only Son to save us and I do so for the love of mankind towards its brother. Jesus said the top two things we can do is first to love the Lord with all our heart and the second to love our neighbor as ourselves. These two are the essence of Christmas to practicing Christians and the Lord knows that this is what is in my heart when I celebrate Christmas. He knows I have no use for pagans. And I have been blessed many times over by Him and our country has been for hundreds of years as long as we centered around him and this included a strong Christmas tradition. I don't think He finds fault with Christmas as we observe it and there is no Biblical basis I have ever seen why He should.
Thanks for reading this long post. :-)
Jason