If we will talk about what is the happiest day in the country, everybody will say that’s Christmas. In fact, there was a saying that “Christmas in the Philippines cannot be compared with other country”, because in this day, Filipino families are gathering together, children run to and fro to have their gifts, friends are gathering for parties, games and programs can be seen anywhere, and most of all, pockets were filled. Hence, many overseas workers try to do anything just to come home and spend their Christmas here in the country. But in this coming season, the environment looks very different. While the media are doing their countdown to the coming Christmas, joy and excitement seem lacking among people. There is a clear difference between previous holiday and the coming one. As the climate gradually turning cold, the society itself is turning gloomy. I can’t find those dancing lights and beautiful lanterns in the street but scattered mutterings saying “Christmas is only for rich.”
Poverty affects Christmas, but this is only for people who think this season is all about money. As Christmas is approaching, people are becoming more desperate to generate some money. In fact, Christmas has the highest rate of violence and theft throughout the year. For them, Christmas will never be happy without new clothes, new shoes, brand new gadgets, parties and gifts. They often say that Christmas happens only once in a year so they must have everything.
The annual celebration of the Savior’s birth was derived from a pagan tradition dates back from the early pagan period. December 25 is the birthday, not of our dear Savior, but of the pagan deity named Mithra. During his birthday, pagan people are giving gifts and making celebrations like what we seen today. It was testified by the Catholic Church itself.
“Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season.” SOURCE
“The ancient Romans held year-end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god; and Mithras, the god of light. Various peoples in northern Europe held festivals in mid-December to celebrate the end of the harvest season. As part of all these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of the Christmas celebrations.” [The World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago: World Book, 1995. p528.]
Consequently, people celebrate Christmas to observe an ancient tradition, not of the early Christian church, but of the pagans.
The date of birth is a very important thing in one’s life. But we all know that the Bible is silent about the birth date of its most important character – Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book of numbers and exactness, yet it never recorded the Savior’s birth date. Why? Because it has no such importance. The prophet Micah declared;
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
The reason why the Bible did not mention the Savior’s birth date is that it gives much emphasis to Christ pre-existence since time immemorial than His beginning in the flesh. The advent of Christ is the most important event happened to humanity, but to celebrate it is not to imitate how the world celebrates its heathen god. When Christ came into the world, He said in Luke 4:18;
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Christ never gave an instruction to celebrate His birthday in the flesh. What He emphasized is that He came to proclaim the “acceptable year of the Lord”, and that this is the time we have to celebrate. But how and when? The Bible says;
“(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (II Corinthians 6:2)
“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: ” (Hebrews 3: 7,8)
“Today”, says the Holy Bible, if anyone heard His voice let him not harden his heart, because for this reason, Christ came to the world.
When the angels came to the shepherds during the night of the Savior’s birth, they said; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” The acceptable year of the Lord is the advent of peace on earth. Mankind was so degraded by sin and everyone come short of the glory of God, thus Christ came to the world and again brought humanity into God and reconciled us to His Father – this is the day of peace, the acceptable year of the Lord.
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (II Corinthians 5:18)
To celebrate the coming of Christ is to reconcile ourselves to the Father by obeying the words of Christ and changing our lives from sinfulness to a Christ-like living.