Friday, December 11, 2009

True Meaning of Christmas

True Meaning of Christmas
The true meaning of the season as the name implies, is the Christ Mass.  This is a celebration of the Savior of the world's birth in Bethlehem.  It is truly the holy day season (the true meaning and origin of "holiday" is "holy day").  We should strive to not neglect the real meaning of the Christ Mass Season and everyone who gets this time off from work should be appreciative of the Catholic Church for setting this special season up for them.  Afterall, Jesus likely wasn't even born in December!   Consider the fact that shepherds were tending their flocks in the field - that's likely NOT a December in Bethlehem activity!

The Catholic Date for the Christ Mass
So if Jesus wasn't born in December, why do we celebrate His birth in that month?  In times of old it was believed that a prophet died on the anniversary of either their birth or conception.  The date of Jesus' death was during the Passover, which is a movable Jewish celebration, occurring on the week of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, precisely (by the Jewish calendar, which is lunar) Passover begins on the 14th of Nisan with the slaughter of the spotless lamb, which is to be eaten fully on that night of the 15th of Nisan.  Being a movable holy day (and birthdays are not) when the date for the Christ Mass was determined they figured as close as possible to when Easter would have been in the year 33 AD.  Settling on March 25th as the Feast of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the Ark of the New Covenant and Mary consented with her fiat, "be it done to me according to thy word."   Then figuring 40 weeks later we arrive at December 25th.  (For an interesting and logical view of when Jesus was likely actually born see this site which bases Jesus' birth in September-October upon the birth of John the Baptist). So the selection of December 25th is based upon the death of Christ at Easter in the year 33 AD (and not, as some would say, it was based upon the fact that there were some popular Roman feasts in December and Catholicism based the Christ Mass in paganism).

Keeping "Christ" in Christmas?
Well yes, by all means I support the concept of keeping "Christ" in Christmas!  We should not only be keeping Christ in Christmas - but also not losing site of keeping Mass in Christmas!  That is the true "reason for the season" - which is to celebrate Christ's birth AT Holy Mass!  What we don't necessarily need to support is boycotting those who wish to say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings."  If someone wishes you "Happy Holidays!" then they are actually wishing you the best for the HOLY DAY of the Christ Mass!  The "Season's Greeting" should be responded to with, "and a Merry Christ Mass to you too!"  Those who make a big deal with boycotts and the like are missing the opportunity to redirect those who may indeed be missing the point of the Holy Day Season.  Rather than cast a negative upon the season, wouldn't it be better to turn it into a positive reflection upon Christians and bring a true remembrance to the Christ Mass Season?

A Blessed Advent Season to You!
Another point we should make - prior to December 25th it is NOT the Christ Mass Season!  Starting four Sundays prior to the Christ Mass begins the season of ADVENT!  This is a season of preparation, anticipation and penance - similar to, but not as strict as the Lenten season.  The TRUE Season of Christmas BEGINS with the first Mass of Christmas, which is traditionally the "Midnight Mass" - though many diocese now end Advent on December 24th with a vigil Mass and technically that would mean the Christmas Season for them begins on the 24th.  Speaking to die-hard Traditionalists, celebrating the evening before is not necessarily a "bad" thing either since by Jewish custom the next "day" begins at sunset, not at midnight per our Western tradition.  So if you're reading this during Advent, I wish you a Blessed Advent!  This, again is also an appropriate response to someone who wishes you a "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings," and may be an ice-breaker for you to discuss why you responded that way and share your faith with them at their bidding (if they ask).  If you're reading this between December 25th and January 6th (the season of Epiphany begins) then I wish you the Merriest/Happiest Christ Mass season!  


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