CELEBRATING WINTER HOLIDAY
On the first Sunday of Advent at the church I worship, the music director invited the congregation to join in a carol singing before the service. A child raised hand and asked for “Jingle Bells.” It’s not in the hymn book: no, that was not what she said. The brave choir director asked the pianist to play Jingle Bells. Everybody knows the words: who needs a hymn book. So we sang our hearts out the song that had nothing to do with the birth of our Saviour. Christmas is more secular ever, even in the church. I guess Santa is kind of religious; a symbol of charity, Saint Nicholas. Otherwise Christmas is more Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Sound of Music, Nutcracker, and shopping. No religion there. Serious Christians lament commercialization and secularization of Christmas celebrations.
It is interesting to watch how my daughter’s family celebrate holidays. Her husband is Jewish and she Christian, sort of. Neither practices religion but celebrates whatever they like to celebrate. So my grand children light the menorah and get gelt and dreidel for Hanukkah, trim the Christmas tree, eat turkey dinner, and get Christmas presents. Best of both worlds. Why not. Better than making tons of money on the backs of poorly paid sales staff. I go to Midnight Mass after Turkey is stuffed, ready for the oven. Next day, we open the presents, and eat turkey dinner with agnostics, Christians, and Jews. We have a good time!
Other times, my daughter’s family celebrate Birthdays, New Year, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Canada Day; Thanksgiving, and Halloween which of course is huge. I wonder if something like this is the future holiday practice of secular and multi-cultural Canada. For those who insist on celebrating the birth of Jesus can go to church. Meanwhile, Christians should be reminded that many of the Christmas customs have pagan roots anyway. Christmas Tree was a German pre-Christian heathen celebration of evergreen, for example. In fact in the past, many denominations, including Presbyterians, prohibited Christmas celebrations because of their pagan origins. Even the current image of Santa Claus, a pot- belly white bearded man in red is an invention by Coca Cola Co.
I think we should give ourselves time to let new Canadian cultural practice to evolve, without imposing one culture on the other while respecting different traditions, and freedom to practice them.