Is Christmas Still a Religious Affair? I Sophie Mihell-Hale
For any Christian, December 25 is one of the highlights of the year, a day that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God and saviour of the world. The day is widely celebrated across the world but for many people the day represents not so much a Christian religious festival as a reason to celebrate the season.
A recent survey in the US by the Pew Research Centre found that nine out of 10 Americans take part in Christmas celebrations, but that only half of them perceive it to be a religious one. Instead, especially amongst the younger generations in the US, the day is increasingly seen and marked as a non-religious cultural event. The results even revealed that a third of Christians themselves no longer see the 25th December as a religious festival.
Unsurprisingly, this changing perception of Christmas has become subject to much debate, with many Christians lamenting, quite understandably, the loss of the true meaning of Christmas as becomes an ever-more commercialised, religion-free celebration. However, is this change necessarily a bad thing?
Turning Christmas into an inclusive secular day allows everyone to experience the joy it brings and the spirit of generosity associated with it. Christian or not, so-called ‘Christmas spirit’ serves as inspiration to everyone to be kinder and more giving, promoting peace on Earth and goodwill towards others.
In this light, whether or not faith is the reason for your Christmas celebrations, the day is one of togetherness and a time when friends and families come together in the spirit of love and giving and it surely seems unfair to make an argument out of such sentiment.
Nevertheless, Christians make a valid point and it is easy to understand the resentment over their religious day being hijacked for wider cultural celebrations.
Perhaps the white flag and way forward is terminologically, letting Christmas retain its religious connotations and instead celebrating the time of year with a somewhat more secular “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings”. Something so simple surely can’t be so hard!
How will you be celebrating the festive season this year?