23 February 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas?

What did you do at Christmas?

What a terrible time of the year! Well, that's what I find anyway. Christmas seems to bring out some rather unfortunate trends in the populace.

Firstly its the 'OVER' season. Over-eat, over-spend, over-drink, over-theorize, "I'm over it"! Now I guess that you can all understand the first three, but what is that next one all about? My sister and I have this ongoing Christmas joke that starts with one of us saying "So that's TTMOC!", like we are surprised and enlightened.

Not familiar with TTMOC? Oh. "The True Meaning Of Christmas". Yes, the theories on what constitutes the true meaning abound. And if you came to the conclusion that it is actually Santamas or Clausmas, we you could be forgiven!

I should introduce here my story about my muslim (to keep things even, I'll use small letters for all references from here on) acquaintance from university when I was doing my medical degree. He is now a well-known medical and literary figure but I will nevertheless refrain from name dropping! It was coming up to christmas and he was talking about celebrating christmas. This puzzled me because while I would not call myself an expert on the muslim faith, I had the small suspicion that muslims do not celebrate christmas, mainly because there is a disagreement over the status of Jesus (sorry proper name!) and therefore it remains a christian festival. And as a reasonable premise one can say that muslims don't celebrate christian festivals, and christians don't celebrate muslim festivals.

Anyway, I remarked, "I am curious as the reasons why a muslim would celebrate christmas". He answered "Oh, I think it is a wonderful economic feast!" A few TV clips on christmas in China seems to support this, as does more than AUD$14 billion spending at DJ's. I'll bet you've never heard that one put forward for the true meaning of christmas! But there in lies the dilemma. Is this "meaning of christmas" anything to anybody?

Historically it is a christian festival, and those who are of that practice, are quick to state that the birth of a certain first-born about 2000 years ago is the reason for the celebration because of the later significance of the individual. Unfortunately I don't recall that any of his contributions were economic or really family-oriented in that get-together-once-a-year-and-have-a-bloody-good-argument-and-spend-more-than-we-can-afford-on-presents way.

Now I do think that family get-togethers are good, but what ties them to Christmas? Just the holidays perhaps, certainly not the christianity any more. What would happen to christmas if we moved the family holiday period to start with the New Year, and let workers have 2 religious holidays per year to match their faith?

Perhaps we could then see the true meaning of christmas?