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By Tim Bodey, Second Year History and Christian Union Member
Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Receiving a new outfit may be fun, but it is important not to forget the festival's origins.
Christmas is no longer a religious festival. It is just celebrated out of tradition, providing an excuse to see family and enjoy gifts.
In a formerly Christian nation, it is no surprise that a once religious festival now gives this opportunity. And yet with the decline of religion among the population, it is also no surprise that the ideas that fuelled these traditions have morphed. Having popular culture is not a bad thing, but not knowing why it began is a shame, and leaves an incomplete person celebrating an incomplete Christmas.
What is the concern with this secular Christmas then?
With the John Lewis Christmas advert usually costing around £7million, there is a lot of money being spent.
Capitalists are trying their best to make people spend money on themselves. This is good for business, but bad for a lot of other things. It tells us that we can find satisfaction in the next possession, and so results in endless cycles of waste as we consume and devour.
It makes relations between families based upon what you can do for each other, rather than a love regardless of each other’s position. It exploits manufacturers and is shocking for the environment. Think of the amount of wrapping paper discarded on Christmas day, never mind the dead tree that you dump in your front garden come New Year.
Granted, it is enjoyable to unwrap a book you will never read.
Secular Christmas also gives much needed rest and an opportunity to visit family.
It gives something in common that helps relations across increasingly isolated communities and prompts some to displays of charitable giving. All these things are an essential part of our modern culture.
Despite its consumerist tendencies, secular Christmas is far from all bad.
It tells us that we can find satisfaction in the next possession, and so results in endless cycles of waste as we consume and devour.
It is just a shame that people forget the reality of Christmas. A loving God.
The reason gifts are given is to remember the Gift of Christ. When Jesus, ‘Though he was God, … did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:6-8). What an amazing thing to do.
The God that made the world went into it, because he loved the people in it so much that he wanted to save them. This meant taking the punishment for all their wrong and putting his glory aside.
Secular Christmas leaves us with dissatisfaction that we didn’t get 'X', or we didn’t see 'Y'. But God’s gift is so much more important than anything we can buy. It provides the identity that we lack so much. Christ’s death means we can rest assured that our fate is secure, and that we don’t need to be perfect, God has done it for us.
He has paid for our mistakes so that we don’t have to. That is something worth celebrating.Featured image: Epigram/Ffion Clarke
Do you think Christmas has become too commercialised? Let us know in the comments.