Eavesdropper: Christmas’ follies

December 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

By Virgilio Sar. Maganes

When I was a child, I always looked forward to the month of December, the happiest month ever in the calendar. And who would not? It is the month of merriment, of gift giving, of family reunions and of special bonding with relatives and friends. I looked forward also to receiving gifts – never mind if they are recycled, brand new or hands-me-down. As a child, you cannot choose the gift you will receive.

But as years went by, my eagerness of waiting the month of December has paled. The greetings “Merry Christmas” have became so shallow and putrid. It became an easy way out for mendicancy. The callousness of using even Christ’s name is indeed deplorable. Christmas in December became a commercial activity. Supermalls, supermarkets and big commercial establishments have been capitalizing the season to promote their products and services with all the come-ons trappings for consumers’ enticement.

I don’t personally know how Christmas started. Bu according to traditions and cultures handed down from generation to generations, Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ who is the savior of mankind. However, reading some passages in the Bible, nowhere have been mentioned that early Christians ever celebrated Christmas. What we could read among the Jews was the celebration of the feast of the Passover when they were delivered from the shackles of Egyptians’ slavery.

Look what the Bible says.

In the Book of St. Luke where the birth of Jesus was recounted it is written: “At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roam Empire. When the first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria . Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.

Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea , the birthplace of King David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem , the time came for her to give birth to a baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger- there was no room in the inn for them to stay..

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born-Christ the Lord. And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger……So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in a manger.”

In like manner, in the Book of Matthew it was written: “Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea , during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby born to the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

Both books lifted from the Good News Bible, Today’s English Version.

The passages in the Bible as mentioned above have been the basis of Christians to celebrate Christmas. The celebration dated back many years ago, but the traditions we are observing are far cry on what were written in the Bible.

I have four mind-boggling questions. First, was Christ born in December?

Second, were the three magis who visited his birth kings from the east? Third, if the early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ, then why are we celebrating it? And fourth, what are now the relationship of Christ to Christmas tree, lanterns, noche buena, etc.

Was Christ born in December? The Bible did not categorically tell so. December in Bethlehem or Israel is a winter month, meaning it was so cold. How come that the shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks? They might have been shivering in coldness. Remember it was a starry night, so it’s impossible that Jesus was born in December. And how about determining the exact date of December 25 as his birthday? It has then no biblical basis.

Were the three magis kings from the east? Again, the Bible tells they were not. They were learned astrologers as quoted from the Book of Matthew. And if they were kings, then they should have traveled with hordes of armies in tow. The “belen” being presented in tableau is that they visited Jesus at the manger. This is quite unbelievable. How impertinent Joseph was if it were so. Imagine for the magis to have been traveling for many days, and yet Joseph had not transferred Mary and baby Jesus to a most comfortable place. By that time, rooms in the inns had already been vacated by the visitors.

If the early Christians did not celebrate his birth, then why we are doing it now? I surmised it’s all in the spirit of commercialism. Christ’s birth brought forth salvation and that could only be consummated in his death at the cross. Early Christians especially the apostles and disciples had been busy propagating the good news of salvation after his death. Many of them died through torture and harassment. Never did they group themselves for his birthday celebration. There was only one birthday celebration recorded in the bible and that was of king Herod. His birthday celebration cost the life of St. John the Baptist where his head was placed in a platter as a gift to Herodias.

Chritmas carols, lanterns, Chritmas trees, etc. are symbols of Christmas celebration. These have no biblical basis either.

Do not scoff at me about this article. There are many follies we are doing during Christmas season. While personally, I am no longer agog over Christmas celebration, let it be- for the sake of many children whose faces are brimming with smiles as they receive their gifts.

Christmas or no Christmas, may Christ be the center of our lives. Shalom.

(for comments, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com)

Entry filed under: Opinion.

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