Re-explicating the Christmas story

As the world brace up to enjoy this holiday season, devoted Christians across the globe enter into a defining moment once more in their lives which several has dubbed as ‘a season of loving and sharing’.

Our interests get drawn once more into if there really is a necessity for celebrating Christmas.
Here’s some few points to take note of as you walk through the season:

* What is Christmas all about?

The root word for Christmas, is an old English word ‘cristes maesse’ and just as it is today, it denoted ‘mass of Christ’. It was a day set aside by the church for Christians around the world to celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus. While a minor sect of professing christians reject the date been set for December 25th a more minute sect, question the mind behind celebrating a birthday placing their arguments on the fact that the mention of birthdays in the Biblical texts connoted murder as seen in the case of Pharaoh (Gen 40v20 ).

While these ideas sound noteworthy and considerably well spelt out, the reality lies in the fact that December 25th was never meant to celebrate a birthday per se.

As noted by its etymological meaning ‘mass of Christ’, Christmas is rather a feast held to commemorate the physical advent of Jesus into humanity.

All christian scriptures accept the fact that Jesus existed many years before his birth, right from the foundation of the World, and His birth, served as the starting point of salvation for the human race. Hence when Christians celebrate Christmas they in reality are celebrating their own salvation which first was heralded by the physical manifestation/birth of Christ Jesus.

* Is there any plausity in the ‘History of religion’ hypothesis?

This very popular hypothesis among several antagonists of Christmas, portend that the period circumvallating the Christmas celebration was actually a festive period dedicated to the Roman sun god sol, which was later converted into the Christmas day celebration.

However plausible this may sound it much resembles the popular arguments given against the Sunday worship by Christians based on the fact that Sunday was named after the sun god. What’s funny is that monday too was named after the moon god, saturday after the god saturn and the list goes on.

So should a people be defined by the actions of others who in anyway have no relationship with their practice?

This sounds more like the accusation of the early Roman historian Diodorus Siculus against the Jews, who in view of denouncing Judaism, opined that the Jewish religion originated from Egypt and linked several prohibitions in Jewish worship as being similar to that prevalent in Egypt as his time.

The question about date fixtures ought not to border on what existed before, but what exists ‘in the now’ and the purpose for such fixtures.

Accepting this antagonism seems like postponing the date for a country’s independence day commemoration because such day coincides with an ignoble event that had happened in the past. How does such actions relate?

Put in a different light, if B is an independent entity, it must remain independent whether or not it’s preceded by A, and whether or not there existed any prior similarity between both. It mustn’t be affected by controversies surrounding the existence of A, as its got no business with it.

* So what’s the fuss about the date for Christmas?

While there exist numerous theories about the exact date of Christ’s birth; most of which are quite plausible, it is obvious that there has been no consensus amongst Christian scholars right from the time of the Church fathers as to when exactly Christ’s birth could be fixed. Moreso the early Christian Apostles took very lightly or even irrelevant a consideration of a date for Christ birth. Thus the scholastic dialogues as regards when Christ was born began to appear over 100 years after the death of the early Christian Apostles; that is around the 200 AD’s.

However certain Church writers offer clues to the fact that the celebration of Christ’s birth was already a topic of discourse by Church leaders in either the early or late 2nd century AD, and one of the hit points of these discourses was the consideration of several possible dates for Christ’s birth.

St clement of Alexandria who lived around 150 to 215 AD, writing about these dates in his book Stromata, outlines thus;

” And there are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth but also the day, and they say it took place in the 28th year of Augustus and in the 25th day of pachon… further others say that he was born on the 24th or 25th day of Pharmuthi.” (Nb: These dates so outlined are <as certain scholars assert>, in line with the early Egyptian/Coptic calendar and could well be converted to the present-day Gregorian calendar for better understanding.”

* What about Santa Claus Christmas trees and all other decors?

Several points have also been raised as regards the inclusion of these extra Biblical feats into the celebration of Christmas. It is noteworthy to state that while modern day Christmas celebration still retain some of it’s religious significance, it gradually has become a more cultural then spiritual event, which negates the Man behind the celebration thus taking away Christ from the mas.

The value of Christmas was never and has never been on the decors or events that take place on that day but on the reason for the celebration which is the physical manifestation of Christ into the world for the salvation of mankind.

* So what’s next?

Make the best out of the holidays!

It’s christmas time!

Don’t take Christ out of the mas!

Love God, Love your family, stand up for your Country,


About the Author
S Ovwata Onojieruo is a Theologian, Political Scientist and Philosopher, whose Research interest spans across the areas of Legal theory, Political Philosophy, Social Epistemology, International Politics and International Relations theory. He currently functions as a Post-graduate Researcher, and Tutorial assistant with the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and can be reached on twitter @OvwataS
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