The Three Wise Men visit Bethlehem

The Three Wise Men follow the star to Bethlehem

Day 355 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

You have probably realised that I am writing a post about Christmas every day now until December 25th when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s because I wanted to share the joy of Christmas with you all.

But today I wanted to write a little more about this spirit of Christmas which we celebrate in this our (largely) Christian country. I know a lot of people are not followers of Christ or even believe in a God … but most people in our society love to celebrate Christmas with feasting and gifts. This does seem to be a universal feeling amongst most people in our society.

spiritHowever, not everyone thinks it is okay to have a Nativity scene displayed in public, but most people are happy to have a Christmas tree on display with presents underneath it. Symbols like the Christmas tree had their origins in a pagan festival anyway but Christianity sought to make it part of their Christmas celebrations.

Now I have a reason for discussing all this. I am sorry to get all serious at this joyful time of year folks, but I feel this subject needs to be addressed!

You see, a Christian friend of mine emailed to say one of our inner-city parkland areas here in Brisbane has, this year,  done away with Christmas Carols and the telling of the Christmas story because they wanted to remain ‘inclusive.’ My friend sent them an email concerning this matter to which she received a reply … part of which read:

“Thanks for your email and your feedback regarding our Christmas program. While we appreciate the origins of Christmas and its religious significance, because South Bank is a public space, we have to cater for the wide variety of people who visit here on a daily basis, and present a program that people from all walks of life can enjoy.”

My friend pointed out that we think nothing of celebrating Chinese New Year with gusto yet not all of us are Chinese.  In light of all this, I did a little research on the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011 Census to find the make-up of religious beliefs in Australia. Here is what I found:

The majority of Australians identified as Christian (61.1%) so we are largely a Christian country. The make-up of those who identify as Non-Christian: Muslims 2.2%, Hindu 1.3%; Buddhists at 2.5% and other non-Christians religions 7.2%. The Jews comprise 0.5%; people with ‘no religion’ (including atheists) make up 22.3%.

This is interesting!

This is interesting!

So, here is my next point folks. If the majority of people in the country are Christian why not let the Christian people have their celebration of the birth of Jesus? In fact, my research tells me that even in a country like Japan where Christmas is popular, despite only a small number of Christians, they have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.

And then again, not all Christian countries celebrate Christmas on December 25th either eg a lot of Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth on January 7th (the day after our Epiphany). And then of course, you have countries where the gifts re given on December 6th The Feast of St. Nicholas and the birth of Christ is December 25th.

As well as this, here is something else to consider. The Christian religion has its basis in the Jewish Bible which we call the Old Testament. The Muslim people venerate Mary as the mother of Jesus, who they consider to be a prophet. The Buddhists are happy to accommodate the beliefs of other people so I do not believe they would have a problem either.

Possibly those most likely to be offended would be the atheists among the 22.3% who identify with ‘no religion’ (not all 22.3% are atheists). Therefore, I do not believe that those non-Christians religions would mind one jot that we, as a Christian nation, would celebrate our Feast on December 25th with Carols and the Christmas story.

I have a practicing Hindu friend who respects our Christian beliefs, gives Christmas cards and exchanges gifts at this time of year. Surely, all our other non-Christian friends would not be offended by what we believe? I think the ones who would be complaining the most would be those ‘atheist’ people who are very devout in their non-belief and seem to me to be very vocal concerning it … I say this because I often hear the vocal atheists on the radio.

A familiar Nativity scene

A familiar Nativity scene

So folks, where does this leave us today … just five days before Christmas? I believe we should respect and value other religions and cultures. I believe we should respect atheists but I also believe that this gives us the right to ask for respect in return so that we can celebrate the Feast of the Birth of Jesus which we derive from our English heritage.

The Christmas story has such a long and varied tradition throughout the ages: taking some things from pagan festivals, others from winter festivals and then the story of Christ’s birth taken from the Bible. Therefore, how can ‘people’ be offended by the celebration of Christmas? This feast has evolved to such an extent that there is something for everyone here. Surely we can keep the parts from the Bible that affect those of us who are Christian?

So at this point, I will rest my case … in favour of the celebration of Christmas Carols and the story of Christmas. What do YOU think?

And now that the serious stuff is out-of-the-way, I am going to put on some Carols, light up the Christmas tree near my Nativity scene, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the spirit of Christmas as I prepare for the birth of Jesus.