It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But sometimes it doesn’t seem that way; sometimes it just feels too busy and hectic.
Although giving unselfishly to others is always a good thing, we sometimes forget about what Christmas is supposed to be and turn it into a commercial holiday where gifts are motivated more by guilt than by generosity. Our culture tells us to buy, buy, buy, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. We usually listen and comply.
And yet, the true meaning of Christmas remains as the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus and how he changed the world forever.
It wasn’t always that way. The origins of Christmas as a holiday reach far back in time to several non-Christian customs. These included the celebrating of the winter solstice and the lengthening of days, as well as Roman mid-winter celebrations. Traditions, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees and gift-giving, were also added over the years.
However, ever since the Middle Ages, Christmas has been overwhelmingly centered on celebrating the birth of Jesus. Although no one knows exactly when Jesus was born, early Christians chose this time of the year partly because it would be easier to incorporate their beliefs into existing pagan celebrations. As the old beliefs died out, Christmas become firmly established as a Christian holiday.
However, even today there are still those who deny the birth of Christ and are opposed to any type of religion. For these people, Christmas is about taking the focus off of religion and putting it on buying, consuming and celebrating. These people truly want to take Christ out of Christmas.
But no matter how much people try to add to Christmas, or what they may try to take away from it, the true meaning remains. One good example of this fact is the use of the word “Xmas.” I don’t know how many people use this abbreviation as a way to avoid using the word “Christ,” but I do know there is at least a perception of that being the case.
And yet, even in the word “Xmas,” Christ is still there. That’s because the “X” stands for Christ and is not a way to avoid saying the word.
The New Testament, which documents the life of Jesus, was written in Greek, which was the common language used in the region for hundreds of years. In Greek, the word for Christ (Christos) begins with the letter X (Chi). And so, for somewhere around a thousand years, the letter X has been used as a symbol for the word Christ.
Therefore, whether it’s Christmas or Xmas, the meaning remains the same.
In the midst of our crazy rush to buy more stuff, we could all stand to slow down a little and remember the true meaning of Christmas. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy shopping and giving gifts. It just means we put all of that stuff in its proper perspective.
We need to remember that the X in Xmas is what Christmas is all about.