What I HATE about the Christmas season

Three days before Christmas and you wouldn’t believe that I’m about to spoil the fun with this series of blog posts. I just want to let the grinch out of me and tell you about the things I hate about this season. Let me start with this:


The whole gift receiving thing

Take note that I didn’t say “gift giving”, that’s for a reason. And let me tell you why our generation has screwed up the Christmas season big time because of this practice.

* What do we teach our kids and what had we learned when we were kids? Gift receiving, that’s right! We are told that if you are good, Santa — actually that’s mom and dad, sorry for the spoiler for those of you who still do not know — will give you gifts. And so the kids are excited for the gifts that they will receive. What happens when dad is fired from his job and the kid will not be receiving a gift this time around? How will you explain to a kid that Christmas is NOT about receiving gifts anyway?

* Exchange gifts happen during Christmas parties. We have “quotas” for the gift price, right? Come to think of it, the focus is the kind of gift that someone will receive. It has to be within the range.

* And yes, families, friends and loved ones, we all give gifts to one another this season. But this is what I have noticed during the gift buying process (does not apply to all, but this is a general observation) 1) we only give gifts to those who we consciously or unconsciously believe we will receive gifts from, and 2) we are so conscious about the price of the gift, thinking that if the receiving person notices that gift is cheap, s/he might be offended. On both cases, the focus is receiving.

Cliche as it is, Christmas is not about receiving, rather it’s about giving. The reason why we celebrate Christmas is because of the “Christ” who was sent as a gift of God to man. “For God so loved the world that he gave…”

The traditions and peripherals

If you still have not noticed, Christmas has become all about snow flakes, Rudolf the red nose reindeer, Santa, Jingle bells, Frosty the snow man and a whole lot of stuff and characters

Not that these things and traditions are bad, but I just don’t get the connection between these things and the “real reason for the season”.

The most disappointing fact is that there are actually a lot of people who don’t want to equate the season to Christ anymore. This is very apparent in western countries, at least in the US as I know — the seat of post-modern thinking. They even refuse to greet “Merry Christmas” and instead use “Happy Holidays”. Have you noticed this in movies and marketing materials on TV and print ads? When they say “Happy Holidays”, they mean, I don’t care about the reason why you celebrate Christmas because I have my reasons, but don’t “force me into this Christ thing”.

Sigh…

We lost the meaning of Christmas, really.

The gifts, the parties, the tree, the lights — all these are meaningless if the center of the season isn’t Christ-mas.

My ideal Christmas season

While the following ideas are almost impossible to happen in this commercialized, post-modern “it’s all about me” generation, let me just end this short series by how the story of the grinch ended — a happy one.

I’m dreaming — not of a “white Christmas” — but a Christmas season where:

1. The focus is Jesus.

Stripped down, simple yet celebrative and contemplative. Everything is focused on what happened on that night in Bethlehem.

We thought that Easter is the most important aspect of our Christianity since it is the season where we commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus. I will argue that it’s not. God’s sacrifice started on Christmas day when Jesus decided to become a creature even if he is the creator.

My all time favorite illustration to show this fact is to say that it would be humiliating for human beings like us to become ants. That, impossible as it may seem to happen, is only a transformation of a higher form of creature to a lower form of creature. What Jesus did is different and more humiliating than we can ever imagine. He was the creator who became a creature. Everything is done on Christmas day so we can have Easter — when Jesus would die for your sins and my sins so that upon having a relationship with him and accepting him as Lord and Savior of our life, we can live with him forever.

I believe that the reason why for most, Christmas is about everything else other than Jesus is because of lack of relationship with him. The Christmas season could have been the best time of the year to remember that.

2. We actually give without thinking of receiving

Gift giving in it real essence is just emulating what God did. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16a)

What if we give gifts without thinking of what we can receive? What if, instead of giving well-wrapped gifts to your office mates, friends and relatives, we spend everything that we normally spend during Christmas season to buy food and clothing for the poor — people that doesn’t have any capability whatsoever to give a gift in return?

God is the model of this. When he gave Jesus to us, he wasn’t expecting anything in return. The Bible said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. In the book of Isaiah, it is said that our most sincere attempt to do good is as filthy as a rug in the eyes of God. Why? Because we are all sinners and God is holy, holy, holy. How then can God expect anything from us?

That’s why when Jesus came on Christmas eve as a gift from God, He is not thinking of anything in return. He did it because he love us. He did it because there’s no other way than Jesus. He did it because he is our only chance.

How will you respond to his love?

This Christmas, my prayer is for us to go back to it’s origin — the very reason for this act of grace by God, and sincerely search our hearts and answer that simple yet profound question.

  • iiiii

    You really need to research the origin of Christmas. Here is a poem which summarizes it.

    Christmas time for many
    is the best time of the year.
    A time to bond with family
    for gift giving and cheer.
    But if you did some research
    of how it originated,
    you’d ask yourself, “Is it proper
    for true Christians to celebrate it?”

    You can ask any Christian,
    anyone on the Earth
    What December 25th is and
    they’ll say, “Christ Jesus’ birth”.
    Was Jesus really born in December?
    According to the Bible, he wasn’t.
    Does Christmas come from true Christians?
    No, it surely doesn’t.

    The Jewish month of Chislev
    or our November/December,
    was not pleasant in Bethlehem .
    It had cold and rainy weather.
    The Bible writer Ezra confirmed
    that when cold Chislev came,
    people were “shivering on account
    of the showers of rain”. (Ezra 10:9, 13)
    Jeremiah also wrote
    that when this month arrived,
    people said it was so cold
    you couldn’t “stand outside”! (Jeremiah 36:22)
    So if he was born in December
    and conditions were so poor,
    why would shepherds on this night
    be “living out of doors”? (Luke 2:8-12)

    Well where does Christmas come from?
    I surely have to tell ‘ya.
    It’s from an ancient festival
    whose name was Saturnalia.
    During this pagan party,
    people exchanged gifts.
    Its date was very familiar.
    December 25th.

    This date was someone’s birthday:
    Tammuz was his name.
    It was a festival that would
    give all of us great shame.
    They used the tall green Christmas tree
    and wreaths were all around
    to represent phallus
    as researchers have found.
    The mistletoe had powers
    they put it into use
    it was to promote fertility,
    the first step to reproduce!
    The ornaments you’ve come to know
    they made their use of these
    Except for round glass globes they used
    human heads on trees!

    If this were Christ’s true birthday
    and he was really for it
    wouldn’t he tell us to do it?
    Wouldn’t he support it?
    So think about this info
    and read the Bible through
    then take a moment and ask yourself:
    “What would Jesus do?”

  • iiiii

    You really need to research the origin of Christmas. Here is a poem which summarizes it.

    Christmas time for many
    is the best time of the year.
    A time to bond with family
    for gift giving and cheer.
    But if you did some research
    of how it originated,
    you’d ask yourself, “Is it proper
    for true Christians to celebrate it?”

    You can ask any Christian,
    anyone on the Earth
    What December 25th is and
    they’ll say, “Christ Jesus’ birth”.
    Was Jesus really born in December?
    According to the Bible, he wasn’t.
    Does Christmas come from true Christians?
    No, it surely doesn’t.

    The Jewish month of Chislev
    or our November/December,
    was not pleasant in Bethlehem .
    It had cold and rainy weather.
    The Bible writer Ezra confirmed
    that when cold Chislev came,
    people were “shivering on account
    of the showers of rain”. (Ezra 10:9, 13)
    Jeremiah also wrote
    that when this month arrived,
    people said it was so cold
    you couldn’t “stand outside”! (Jeremiah 36:22)
    So if he was born in December
    and conditions were so poor,
    why would shepherds on this night
    be “living out of doors”? (Luke 2:8-12)

    Well where does Christmas come from?
    I surely have to tell ‘ya.
    It’s from an ancient festival
    whose name was Saturnalia.
    During this pagan party,
    people exchanged gifts.
    Its date was very familiar.
    December 25th.

    This date was someone’s birthday:
    Tammuz was his name.
    It was a festival that would
    give all of us great shame.
    They used the tall green Christmas tree
    and wreaths were all around
    to represent phallus
    as researchers have found.
    The mistletoe had powers
    they put it into use
    it was to promote fertility,
    the first step to reproduce!
    The ornaments you’ve come to know
    they made their use of these
    Except for round glass globes they used
    human heads on trees!

    If this were Christ’s true birthday
    and he was really for it
    wouldn’t he tell us to do it?
    Wouldn’t he support it?
    So think about this info
    and read the Bible through
    then take a moment and ask yourself:
    “What would Jesus do?”

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. The debate is whether to celebrate his birth even if the date is not sure. It is still a debate. I choose to celebrate, nobody knows the exact date anyway. In the first place nothing in the Bible prohibits the celebration.

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. The debate is whether to celebrate his birth even if the date is not sure. It is still a debate. I choose to celebrate, nobody knows the exact date anyway. In the first place nothing in the Bible prohibits the celebration.

  • iiiii

    Hello brother,

    Jesus never commanded Christians to celebrate his birth. Rather, he told his disciples to memorialize, or remember, his death. (Luke 22:19, 20) Christmas and its customs come from ancient false religions and pagan traditions. The same is true of Easter customs, such as the use of eggs and rabbits. The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or Easter, nor do TRUE Christians today.

    Does the Bible Discourage
    Feasting and the Giving of Gifts?

    The Giving of Gifts – The Bible approves of the giving of presents, God himself being called the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) Jesus indicated that good parents would give gifts to their children. (Luke 11:11-13) Job’s friends and family members gave Job gifts when he recovered his health. (Job 42:11) None of such giving, however, required specific feast days. It stemmed from the heart.—2 Corinthians 9:7.

    Family Gatherings – Family gatherings can do much to unite family members, especially if they no longer live in the same house. Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding feast in Cana, doubtless a large gathering of family and friends. (John 2:1-10) And in Jesus’ illustration of the prodigal son, the father celebrated his son’s return with a family banquet, which included music and dancing.—Luke 15:21-25.

    Enjoying a Good Meal – The Bible frequently speaks of God’s servants as enjoying good food with family, friends, or fellow worshipers. When three angels visited Abraham, he prepared a feast for them that included beef, milk, butter, and round cakes. (Genesis 18:6-8) Solomon described ‘eating, drinking, and rejoicing’ as a gift from God.—Ecclesiastes 3:13; 8:15.

    Clearly, God wants us to enjoy good food in the company of friends and family, and he approves of the giving of gifts. We have ample opportunity to do that at any time throughout the year and not only at Christmas time or whenever an occassion occurs.

    The only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship God. (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27) The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The custom of celebrating birthdays comes from ancient false religions. True Christians give gifts and have good times together at other times during the year.

    Thanks for giving me the time to reply on your site.

  • iiiii

    Hello brother,

    Jesus never commanded Christians to celebrate his birth. Rather, he told his disciples to memorialize, or remember, his death. (Luke 22:19, 20) Christmas and its customs come from ancient false religions and pagan traditions. The same is true of Easter customs, such as the use of eggs and rabbits. The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or Easter, nor do TRUE Christians today.

    Does the Bible Discourage
    Feasting and the Giving of Gifts?

    The Giving of Gifts – The Bible approves of the giving of presents, God himself being called the Giver of every good gift and every perfect present. (James 1:17) Jesus indicated that good parents would give gifts to their children. (Luke 11:11-13) Jobs friends and family members gave Job gifts when he recovered his health. (Job 42:11) None of such giving, however, required specific feast days. It stemmed from the heart.2 Corinthians 9:7.

    Family Gatherings – Family gatherings can do much to unite family members, especially if they no longer live in the same house. Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding feast in Cana, doubtless a large gathering of family and friends. (John 2:1-10) And in Jesus illustration of the prodigal son, the father celebrated his sons return with a family banquet, which included music and dancing.Luke 15:21-25.

    Enjoying a Good Meal – The Bible frequently speaks of Gods servants as enjoying good food with family, friends, or fellow worshipers. When three angels visited Abraham, he prepared a feast for them that included beef, milk, butter, and round cakes. (Genesis 18:6-8) Solomon described eating, drinking, and rejoicing as a gift from God.Ecclesiastes 3:13; 8:15.

    Clearly, God wants us to enjoy good food in the company of friends and family, and he approves of the giving of gifts. We have ample opportunity to do that at any time throughout the year and not only at Christmas time or whenever an occassion occurs.

    The only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship God. (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27) The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The custom of celebrating birthdays comes from ancient false religions. True Christians give gifts and have good times together at other times during the year.

    Thanks for giving me the time to reply on your site.

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    Hi,

    I appreciate your opinion. Let me just say though that while Jesus never asks us to celebrate his birthday, neither did he prohibit it. And when the Bible is silent, there’s should be no room for dogmatism and legalism.

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    Hi,

    I appreciate your opinion. Let me just say though that while Jesus never asks us to celebrate his birthday, neither did he prohibit it. And when the Bible is silent, there’s should be no room for dogmatism and legalism.

  • iiiii

    Jesus did not prohibit celebrating his birthday, but if we know where it had originated, would we want to do it anyway? Do origins really matter? yes, to illustrate: suppose you saw a piece of candy lying in the gutter. Would you pick up that candy and eat it? Of course not! That candy is unclean. Like that candy, the holidays may seem sweet, but they have been picked up from unclean places. (Paganism, false religions) Would Jesus have approved of it?
    As apostle Paul wrote: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:10
    As the prophet Isaiah told TRUE worshippers: “Touch nothing unclean.” – Isaiah 52:11
    Satan has truly blinded people.

  • iiiii

    Jesus did not prohibit celebrating his birthday, but if we know where it had originated, would we want to do it anyway? Do origins really matter? yes, to illustrate: suppose you saw a piece of candy lying in the gutter. Would you pick up that candy and eat it? Of course not! That candy is unclean. Like that candy, the holidays may seem sweet, but they have been picked up from unclean places. (Paganism, false religions) Would Jesus have approved of it?
    As apostle Paul wrote: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:10
    As the prophet Isaiah told TRUE worshippers: “Touch nothing unclean.” – Isaiah 52:11
    Satan has truly blinded people.

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    One question: do you know where the custom of “shaking hands” come from?

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    One question: do you know where the custom of “shaking hands” come from?

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    Actually, let me answer that and cut the chase. There are a lot of ancient pagan practices that our modern society has adopted — knowingly or unknowingly.

    For instance, the practice of “hand shaking” is an ancient pagan practice done when two people wants to say “I’m passing on to you the power of *this* god”.

    Now, hand-shaking is a common practice today. But this time around, we’re not doing it for the same purpose as the pagans of old. Instead we do it to greet people, to introduce one’s self and is generally a wonderful practice.

    The same is true with Christmas. In the time of Constantine after his conversion to Christianity, he wanted his constituents to worship Jesus instead of the pagan sun god on December 25th, thus the start of the Christmas tradition. We DO NOT commemorate some god’s birthday, instead we celebrate Jesus’. If there’s anything wrong with that, I’d say, stop shaking people’s hands. :D

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    Actually, let me answer that and cut the chase. There are a lot of ancient pagan practices that our modern society has adopted — knowingly or unknowingly.

    For instance, the practice of “hand shaking” is an ancient pagan practice done when two people wants to say “I’m passing on to you the power of *this* god”.

    Now, hand-shaking is a common practice today. But this time around, we’re not doing it for the same purpose as the pagans of old. Instead we do it to greet people, to introduce one’s self and is generally a wonderful practice.

    The same is true with Christmas. In the time of Constantine after his conversion to Christianity, he wanted his constituents to worship Jesus instead of the pagan sun god on December 25th, thus the start of the Christmas tradition. We DO NOT commemorate some god’s birthday, instead we celebrate Jesus’. If there’s anything wrong with that, I’d say, stop shaking people’s hands. :D

  • iiiii

    Hello brother,
    May I ask where you got your reference for the definition of the origin of handshaking as an old pagan practice which means passing on the power of this “god”?

  • iiiii

    Hello brother,
    May I ask where you got your reference for the definition of the origin of handshaking as an old pagan practice which means passing on the power of this “god”?

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    This was a result of a research I made when I was in college. As a backgrounder, I came from a Christian tradition where people are split whether Christmas should be observed or not. I can vividly remember a sermon by a pastor named Gideon Durante which inspired me to do that research. That’s where the “Handshake pagan practice” illustration came from.

    Of course, you don’t expect me to quote from memory something that I did 15 years ago, do you? :D You may, or may not believe me, but there is a reference for that.

    Some (unreliable) references from the web:

    http://mmothra.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_archive.html
    The” hands joined” or “handshake” was depicted on the Numa altar to Fides under which name the goddess of oaths and honesty was worshiped.

    http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=printDiscussion&webtag=ab-judaism&tid=10966
    Mithras was worshipped as guardian of arms, and patron of soldiers and armies.

    The handshake was developed by those who worshipped him as a token of friendship and as a gesture to show that you were unarmed.

  • http://arnoldgamboa.com Arnold

    This was a result of a research I made when I was in college. As a backgrounder, I came from a Christian tradition where people are split whether Christmas should be observed or not. I can vividly remember a sermon by a pastor named Gideon Durante which inspired me to do that research. That’s where the “Handshake pagan practice” illustration came from.

    Of course, you don’t expect me to quote from memory something that I did 15 years ago, do you? :D You may, or may not believe me, but there is a reference for that.

    Some (unreliable) references from the web:

    http://mmothra.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_archive.html
    The hands joined or handshake was depicted on the Numa altar to Fides under which name the goddess of oaths and honesty was worshiped.

    http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=printDiscussion&webtag=ab-judaism&tid=10966
    Mithras was worshipped as guardian of arms, and patron of soldiers and armies.

    The handshake was developed by those who worshipped him as a token of friendship and as a gesture to show that you were unarmed.

  • iiiii

    The origin of the handshake was even before this god Mithra, in fact, the handshake gesture was imported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe by Roman soldiers, it never had origins from pagans. Handshakes originated as a gesture showing that the hand holds no weapon.
    Again brother, thank you for the time on your site. Do not be blinded by Satan who is ruling this world. As TRUE CHRISTIANS – “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:10 and “Touch nothing unclean.” – Isaiah 52:11

  • iiiii

    The origin of the handshake was even before this god Mithra, in fact, the handshake gesture was imported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe by Roman soldiers, it never had origins from pagans. Handshakes originated as a gesture showing that the hand holds no weapon.
    Again brother, thank you for the time on your site. Do not be blinded by Satan who is ruling this world. As TRUE CHRISTIANS – “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:10 and Touch nothing unclean. – Isaiah 52:11

  • Ruben

    I think that the Incarnation of God into this world is something that should be celebrated – regardless of the date. It marks the beginning of God physically joining humanity and elevating it back to Himself.

    As for the pagan origins, it is true that when the church achieved power, many pagan practices were “christianized” to accomodate or transition Romans into Christianity. It is unfortunate but I believe that God can overcome and transform these as long as we keep our focus on Him. There is a myth that goes through pagan beliefs of a “dying god”, and I believe these foreshadow Christ. One can also look at the example of the Magi, they were most probably astrologists, people who practiced an art that was not sanctioned by God, yet God showed the birth of His Son to them as well.

    If we are to touch nothing unclean then we should be so far from who Christ is, His whole life was spent touching and healing all of us who are unclean. The Incarnation is God Himself making a home among people who are unclean. May I present the truth that Jesus is the fullest reveation of God (read the beginning of Hebrews)and we should orient ourselves to see the Bible in this light?

  • Ruben

    I think that the Incarnation of God into this world is something that should be celebrated – regardless of the date. It marks the beginning of God physically joining humanity and elevating it back to Himself.

    As for the pagan origins, it is true that when the church achieved power, many pagan practices were “christianized” to accomodate or transition Romans into Christianity. It is unfortunate but I believe that God can overcome and transform these as long as we keep our focus on Him. There is a myth that goes through pagan beliefs of a “dying god”, and I believe these foreshadow Christ. One can also look at the example of the Magi, they were most probably astrologists, people who practiced an art that was not sanctioned by God, yet God showed the birth of His Son to them as well.

    If we are to touch nothing unclean then we should be so far from who Christ is, His whole life was spent touching and healing all of us who are unclean. The Incarnation is God Himself making a home among people who are unclean. May I present the truth that Jesus is the fullest reveation of God (read the beginning of Hebrews)and we should orient ourselves to see the Bible in this light?