HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! DOWN WITH THE SECULARIZATION OF CHRISTMAS!
“But Luke, what are you talking about? How can you be against the secularization of Christmas and the way in which society begins celebrating it before Halloween if you’re already wishing us a happy New Year?”
Because I’m talking about a different New Year than you are, dear hypothetical objector. Allow me to explain.
I had been thinking about writing a post like this for a few days, but it came to a head when I saw a sign on a church off the interstate proclaiming “Christ Is Born!” I could not help but cry out “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I’M DYING I’m dying I’m dead.”
I know not all denominations of Christianity observe Advent, but such a reaction comes as second nature to me. I can’t see the point of celebrating Christmas when it isn’t Christmas. And here’s why.
Say there’s some person who innocently thinks “Alright, society is celebrating Christmas now. So shall I.” Now, there’s never anything wrong with celebrating the amazing fact that God came to Earth and lived among us. But see here, as an analogy: suppose you have a guest coming to stay in your home. What’s the first thing you do? Do you start partying when you hear the news up until they arrive and then tell them to leave the next day?
I hope not.
When you have someone coming to visit, you clean up. You vacuum and dust, you make the bed in the guest bedroom, you make sure you’re home when they arrive. Then can you be ready to host your guest for several days.
Traditionally, Christmas is preceded by a season of expectation and preparation known as Advent. It means something along the lines of “towards the coming” in Latin.
Before we can welcome Jesus into our hearts, we have to prepare a place for him. We must silence our hearts in readiness to hear His message. Advent is just that: a time of preparation for His arrival, making room in our soul for Him to dwell there. It’s a time of prayer and reflection. (For Catholics, it’s also the beginning of a new liturgical year, hence my opening exclamation.) It’s a joyous expectation, but it’s not the all-out party that Christmas should be.
And that’s the other thing. Christmas had become mainly “the pre-Christmas season” any more. It’s like if football fans spent the entire weekend before a game tailgating and then left five minutes into the first quarter. To be clear: the Christmas season starts on Christmas. (Ever heard of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Or the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night?) Why would you exchange twelve days of celebration for one day of celebration? ‘Tis no fun. 😦 And the twelfth day, Epiphany, is almost as much of a celebratory occasion as Christmas Day.
So, lets prepare a home in our hearts for Christ, and then celebrate His birth for more than just a day. Just as there’s no Easter without the pain and sacrifice of the Cross, there’s no Christmas without the solemn, silent excitement and expectation of Advent. It makes the arrival that much sweeter.
P.S. The best version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” ever to be performed, IMHO:
P.P.S. In case you don’t get the reference that the second half of the song makes: