Christmas is one of the major milestones in a year. It is approaching that time again. Its religious significance is the annual celebration of the birth of Christ that we may read about in Luke 2: 4-19. It is highly unlikely that the 25th December was the actual day of Christ’s birth.
December was in the middle of the Bethlehem winter. It is an unlikely time for Herod to have required his citizens to travel long distances for a census. Most scholars believe that Jesus was born between 4-7BC during the life of Herod who died in 4BC – its what the New Testament tells us. The Christmas star is likely to have been an alignment of planets and there was three likely times for such an occurrence in this period. The most likely is 17th April 6BC on the Roman calendar when the sun, Jupiter, the moon and Saturn were aligned in the constellation Aries. It is believed that the wise men were Zoroastrian astrologers who would have recognized the planetary alignment in Aries as a sign a powerful leader was born.
The 25th December was the day of the Roman sun god. Christianity was strong in Rome in the days of Constantine who became a Christian on his deathbed. It seems that he endeavoured to embrace this religion as part of his empire’s culture and strengthen his rule by recognising the birthday of Jesus on this important Roman day.
Many religions celebrate religious events at the time of Christmas. Many people of other religions and those devoid of faith feel that Christmas time is a good opportunity for a family gatherings and a time of goodwill. In Australia, it is a time immediately after school and university graduations and often a time for change in employment. In the “land of the long weekend” as some say, it is for many a time for a holiday often of 4-6 weeks or longer. With the great distances that the members of some families have to travel to be together, it is an ideal time for a family gathering.
Unfortunately, there are some without families and loved ones or in a state of distress. Christmas may just remind them of their misfortune. It should be a time for us to open our hearts, extend the hand of friendship and open our doors making a place at the table as we have done many times. It has always brought us an unexpected pleasure.
It is a pity if those who want to be part of a family do not realise that Christmas is a time to demonstrate a desire to participate. Conventional families and the extended elements of those families are built on the strongest of blood ties. However, to be accepted as a member of this tight knit building block of our type of society all aspirants must willingly establish and maintain strong harmonious bonds. It is insufficient by accident of birth just to have ended up in a particular family and think that you automatically really “belong” in the fullest sense.
As members leave home and establish their own families as we all hope that they will do, the full family gatherings will diminish in numbers for some Christmases but the spirit will still be there. Make the most of Christmas while you can and make every effort to celebrate Christmas with your whole family whenever possible if you want to be fully part of a family and enjoy its benefits. As we say, be happy and communicate happiness to others. Traditional families are a place for socialisation and learning for all age groups, a place with built-in role models, for mutual support of all natures. It is a place to learn by example how the opposite gender should be treated. For me, the possession by all of strong traditional family values all is necessary.
I wish my readers a Merry Christmas and my best wishes for the New Year.