Friday 15 December 2006

The Meaning Of Christmas: A Cultural Perspective

With the holiday season approaching, I wonder what the true meaning of Christmas is in a multicultural society such as Canada today. As a secular tradition, Christmas Day is originally a Christian celebration that marks the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It is now celebrated worldwide, partly because of the widespread of Christianity and the influence of western culture in many countries. The tradition of winter festivals, such as the Natalis Solis Invicti celebrated by the Romans or the Yule celebrated by the Pagans, to which Christmas in part owes its origin as a festival holiday, has largely been forgotten by history. Instead, in modern times, Christmas is often celebrated in conjunction with or in place of other religious holidays. Hanukkah, a Jewish celebration that starts on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, is observed by those who are seeking a Jewish alternative to Christmas, even though the Hannukkah festival can fall in as early as November and as late as January instead of December that is for Christmas.

Today, Christmas is recognized as both a secular and non-secular holiday. As a Chinese myself, I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious festival but an opportune holiday to spend time with my family. In a multicultural society, the new meaning of Christmas goes beyond that of the celebration of a single religion; it is an opportunity to celebrate family values and to be together with those who love us and those who we love back, regardless of religious beliefs.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Family • Under Life • Under World
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