Christmas part of heritage and religion

"I don’t begrudge you your celebration; please allow me to celebrate mine."

Happy Solstice, Mr. Allen (“More to celebrate than just Christmas,” Trail Times, Dec.16). And joyful wishes to all my neighbours and friends, whether they celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or a secular gathering of their own tradition. Me, I celebrate Christmas, because that is both my culture and my faith. I don’t begrudge you your celebration; please allow me to celebrate mine.

What “confusion” about a holiday observance of Christmas?  Our culture is a product of our history, and the history of Canada, although multi-layered, is predominantly rooted by the British and French, both cultures having significant Christian influence.  Government decision makers were in fact Christian, because until recently church on Sundays was the norm not the exception. Leaders based decisions on common social values which, since the time of Confederation, have been Christian. To have proclaimed the December holiday in honour of the Solstice would have amounted to heresy!  We also have Good Friday, Easter and Thanksgiving holidays– presumably you will say these are also products of bigoted Christian control. Fact is, our Canadian story has Christian roots, so the holiday is Christmas: however you choose to observe is up to you.

I assure you it is not the designation of the December holiday that “has caused division, confusion, and the need to redefine what Christmas means.” Christmas has a culture of its own: flying reindeer and jolly elves, overblown consumerism, family reunions, snow, paid days off, mistletoe, magical snowmen, excess calories, twinkling lights.

None of these are part of the Christian story, so can’t be blamed on what we name the holiday.  But whether you celebrate a spiritual or a secular Christmas, or none at all, Christmas is a part of the Canadian culture and would be harder to eliminate than TimBits.

Awhile back, my son in Grade 3 asked his teacher why they sang all the songs on the Christmas song-sheet except for Silent Night, which was his favourite. The answer was that it might offend some people who didn’t believe in that part of Christmas.

Well, I ask, what if I don’t believe in Rudolph? Or if I’m allergic to roast chestnuts? Will you leave those songs out, too?  If some of us wish to celebrate the coming of the Light of God into human darkness, why must I diminish my observance to prove I am tolerant of yours?

It might surprise you to know, Mr. Allen, that the promise of warmth returning to end winter is an integral part of the Christmas message.  That’s why we celebrate Jesus’ birth at this time of year.  You may have more in common with your Christian neighbours than you think. If “Merry Christmas” gets your back up, then I wish you the song of the angels:  “Peace, goodwill to all.”

Jennifer Sirges

Trail