Modern Christmas practices go against Christian teachings

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As a Christian, I find the celebration of Christmas abhorrent.  When considering the holiday’s pagan roots and practices it can hardly be considered Christian.
The modern celebration of the holiday encourages greed and a sense of entitlement to material goods, both of which are antithetical to Christian teaching.
The obligation to try and experience joy at this time of year causes it to be the most stressful season and consequently has more suicide incidents than any other part of the year.  For some people, Christmas is the only day they attend church, debasing the practice of church attendance to ritual status, which strips it of its value and purpose.
Consider the trappings that are associated with Christmas: putting an evergreen tree in one’s house, the holiday’s association with the Santa Claus icon, even the date on which Christmas is set. There is no obvious connection between these and the birth of Christ.
Still, those who assert that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Messiah seem attached to these traditions.  Ironically, they are non-Christian in origin.
Pagans used to, and in some cases still, take trees into their homes and decorate them during the time of the winter solstice, which falls approximately between the 21st and 23rd of December.  Similarly, ancient Romans used to bring clippings of evergreens into their homes for the celebration of Saturnalia, the holiday that honored the god Saturn, which ran from December 17th to the 23rd.
Recognizing these origins, many early American Puritans actually banned the practice of bringing a tree into one’s home as part of the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Though St. Nicholas’ origins are not heathen in nature, the bastardization of his name and image for commercial purposes, particularly by Coca-Cola, detract from his message of charitable giving.
The iconography of Christmas, though purported as a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ, seems to focus on St. Nicholas.
The very date that Christmas is set upon is a reaction to heathen traditions.  The Roman Catholic Church decided to add two more days to the celebration of Saturnalia under the guise of celebrating Christ’s birth.
In reality, they were just trying to attract those who celebrated the Saturnalia into the church.
It should be noted that the weeklong Saturnalia was comprised of lewd acts and debauchery; something the church should have distanced itself from rather than embracing.
Apart from the moral issues associated with the origins of Christmas, the obligation to give gifts puts unnecessary stress on people who may be financially strained. This is made worse if they have kids who feel entitled to gifts during the holiday season.
Entitlement is not easily shaken, and it breeds a prolonged attitude of being malcontent.  It is my belief that gifts should not be expected, but given either out of affection or because the recipient has earned them.
Christmas teaches children that regardless of their conduct, they will receive presents.  Maybe it would do them some good if they actually received lumps of coal.
For many, December 25th is the only day of the year, with the possible exception of Easter that they attend church.  Personally, I don’t even like the phrase “attend church.” Church isn’t a spectacle to be observed so much as it is a group with which to be actively involved.
Only going to church one day a year is the complete opposite of active involvement.  If the purpose of a church is for instruction and moral accountability, how can that possibly be achieved without regular attendance?
I think it would be wise of churches to forego Christmas services so as to discourage the ritualization of church involvement.

Comments, questions and criticisms of this column can be sent to rosstripi@gmail.com.

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