REFLECTION ON THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTMAS
By Okwy Onyia
From the middle of 4th Century A.D to the present time, Christmas celebration has come to represent a very important event in the lives of many Christians the world over. In Christendom, Christmas is profoundly significant in that it is a watershed in man’s protracted struggles against sin and his quest for salvation.
On December 25, as the legend holds, Christ Jesus was born to suffer for man and die as a ransom for his ubiquitous sins. However, the sinful pomp and extravagance that characterize the celebration has continued to make many people cringe with revulsion about the fast eroding essence of Christmas.
It is widely believed in several quarters that Christmas, by measure of its analogy with the winter Solstice celebration of Saturnalia-the rebirth of Sun god-is supposed to be a period of man’s deep reflection on his life and moral regeneration. In the same way the Northern European tribes celebrated their chief festival of Yule at the winter Solstice to commemorate the passage of the dying Sun god and its rebirth. The coming of Christmas, it has been argued, should be a symbolic epoch of regeneration for Christians.
The birth of Christ, aside the historical controversy over the accuracy or inaccuracy of the date, represents the corporal manifestation or explication of the divine prophecy of the Savior’s coming-that is the Messianic birth-and the loosening of man from the lacerating shackles of sin.
But it is rather unfortunate to note that the essence of Christmas has become so worn away from our collective consciousness that only a few Christians still retain the significance of the celebration. It has become, from the gaiety and festive spirit introduced into it from the pagan events of Yule and Saturnalia, a time when the fundamental tenets of Christianity get mortgaged and compromised for an easy life of debauchery and chicanery. It has become a moment when the idolatry of wealth and primitive materialistic accumulation drive many to commit unspeakable heist and commit blood curdling atrocities. A time when the spasmodic current of religious excitement is allowed to defy and overwhelm the fortified walls of facts and reason.
The foregoing, which is an infinitesimal representation of the Epicurean orientation of many Christians and the excesses of the time, is a cause for concern. Against this backdrop, there is the urgent need for an immediate and radical re-orientation of Christians by clergymen. Christians should be made to re-focus their minds on the focal theme of the celebration-their salvation-which the birth of Christ epitomizes, and on those wonderful teachings he bequeathed on mankind before His death, resurrection and ascension.
It is the humble opinion of this writer that the period should also be used by Christians to reflect extensively on their lives in the outgoing year and, where there are lapses, make a conscious effort to correct them in the coming year.
According to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. Consequently, it is only through deep reflection, self examination and dispassionate probing that life will become more meaningful. It is equally one sure way of resurrection from the present moral and spiritual atrophy which would lead to a restoration of the essence of Christmas celebration.
Okwy Onyia is Account Director at Caritas Communications, a reputation management consultancy based in Lagos.
He could be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or 08099961007 or on Twitter: @Okwyonyia