Christmas is probably the most well known religious holiday in the world. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas in traditional and non-traditional ways. Part of the reason why Christmas is so popular is because it has become the biggest commercial holiday in the world. Business-savvy companies usually make a big profit during this season by tapping into the gift-giving tradition of this yuletide holiday.
But Christmas is not solely a holiday of glitz, glamor, endless parties and exchanging of presents. This Christian holiday centers on the birth of the child Jesus, who, according to Christian beliefs, is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Christmas is the story of the Nativity where Joseph led Mary around Bethlehem to look for a place where Mary could give birth to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. Joseph and Mary were turned away by all the innkeepers and had to settle for a barn. Thus, the child Jesus was born in the lowliest of places. And instead of a crib, the baby Jesus was placed on a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. Shepherds, upon the call of an angel, came to pay homage to the newborn, as did Three Wise Men, who were guided by a star. The Three Wise Men or Magis, offered gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold.
For Christians around the world, the Child Jesus symbolizes hope, peace and love. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people, the promise of sending a savior. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth reminds everyone that even in the most trying of times, there is hope. That love will come from unexpected places and that peace will reign in the end.
2011 has been a very challenging year. The world has seen many tragedies many times over. There were the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that devastated Japan, earthquakes that claimed lives in NewZealand, Turkey, and other countries, unprecedented flooding in Australia, Thailand, the United States, the Philippines and other nations, other forms of natural calamities that wreaked havoc in the lives of humans and animals alike, social and political unrest including terrorist attacks that have led to physical injuries and loss of lives especially in the Middle East and Africa, financial/economic crisis in Europe especially in Greece and in other nations, plus the various social, political and religious scandals that rocked the headlines for days and weeks.
But amidst these seemingly insurmountable challenges were great examples of hope and love. Government and non-government institutions, private and public corporations, and individuals from all levels of society, did their share in helping alleviate suffering, misery, pain and hopelessness. There were poignant stories everywhere you turn. Unlikely people became heroes overnight whether they wanted to or not. The triumph of the human spirit and man’s innate love for humanity has shown itself many times over throughout the past year.
And this is what Christmas is all about. It is about sharing what you have with another person regardless of creed, race, religion, social or political affiliation. It is not the amount you give or what you give but the act of giving something wholeheartedly. The message of Christmas is loud and clear. It resonates. It shouts. It makes itself heard above the din of the Christmas carols and the blatant display of commercialism. Christmas is about spreading joy, peace and love where it is most needed. It is about being a light to someone in the dark.
May the spirit of Christmas continue to be with everyone everyday of the year!