Christmas has turned into a major shopping spree. Merchants and manufacturers, whether Christian or not, reap the benefits.
Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and like many other Arctic people, he relies on reindeer. How did Christmas, celebrating a birth in a desert land, get connected to the epitome of an ice-bound location?
Christians became eager to attach their holy days to pagan rites in order to facilitate conversions. The bunny rabbit to Easter, and the evergreen to Christmas. When I was a child, coming to awareness of the world, I began to question those oddities.
I soon learned that Santa was a lie, and that made me wonder what else was a lie.
While Jews and Muslims seem to respect the roots of their religious traditions, as do Buddhists and others around the world, most religions are as capable as Christians in altering meanings of basic tenets. The old does not always square with modern life.
Christmas has turned into a major shopping spree. Merchants and manufacturers, whether Christian or not, reap the benefits. Children get so many holiday gifts they can’t remember who gave them what, and the abundance of gifts overpower what should be a powerful religious experience. When I was a kid, I got one Santa gift, and one parental gift.
Then credit cards were invented, and shopping frenzies became the norm. My mother told me that her childhood Christmas treat was getting an orange. Before supermarkets, fresh fruits were rare in winter. A Christmas orange in the Midwest was a precious treat. Grandma always raised a few turkeys to sell at Christmas time so she could buy her children oranges.
Whatever your practices are, remember that the end of a year (the cycle of the earth around the sun) was always viewed in early cultures as an opportunity for renewal. Some American Indian tribes threw old household items into a communal bonfire, having already made new replacements for the items. Their new year began with fresh new things that cost them nothing more than effort. Life can be lived simply and still provide great enjoyment.
Whatever you do during this holiday month, don’t overdo. December is a month of excesses with parties and family events. Don’t over-eat and don’t over-drink. Do not shop yourself into debt. If you must have excesses, have it in friendships and love and kindness and contemplation. Try to experience a holy day.
KAREN COODY COOPER, LAKE WORTH BEACH