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There is more to Christmas than Christmas

Friday 24 December 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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There is more to Christmas than Christmas
Columnist Thomas Tarurongo Wynne. 16040843

As commercialism and commerce have taken over Christmas, we have seen it commodified and churned out like so many other aspects of Western culture, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Because of this we inevitably see it dominated and ruled by the mighty dollar.

There is so much more to Christmas than Christmas. In fact the ancient pagan origins of Christmas, the Christmas tree, the giving of gifts, the Yule tide and even Christmas cards provide a backdrop to something we all may celebrate from one Church or home to the next, but to say it’s Christian is a stretch or anything about Jesus birth or its timing is simply not true.

As Pentecostals and fundamentalists around the globe cry out against the secularisation of Christmas, what may be closer to the truth is that the secular and pagan origins of Christmas are simply making their way home again.

In ancient Rome, December 25th was a celebration of the Unconquered Sun, marking the return in the Northern Hemisphere of longer days. December 25th was the celebration of Saturnalia – a festival where, wait for it … yes people exchanged gifts. The Roman Church began celebrating Christmas in the 4th century during the reign of Constantine enveloping this Roman tradition and Christianising the date to make it their own. In fact, the Puritans who left England and made their way to the Americas opposed the celebration of Christmas and in both England and America succeeded in banning its observance for quite some time.

From the singing of Carols, to the exchanging of gifts on the 25th of December or the simple Yule Christmas Tree or log, so many of our contemporary traditions that we have held fast to as Christian, did not begin in the Christian tradition.  Even most Christians acknowledge that Jesus’ birth was not on the 25th of December and yet it is still celebrated nonetheless with all the trimmings of its ancient pagan traditions, because there is so much more to Christmas than Christmas.

As commercialism and commerce have taken over Christmas, we have seen it commodified and churned out like so many other aspects of Western culture which inevitably see it dominated and ruled by the mighty dollar. Be it churches, who are driven by the accumulation of wealth, or church ministers, or Christmas, the dollar or the love of it radiates through Jesus’ ominous words so many centuries ago and are true today. As the barrage of Western culture, especially American culture, has seen the rise of Halloween in places where it was never celebrated, we see it reach in our society and in our way of seeing the world and us in it. As pagan as Halloween is, my question is, is Christmas actually that much different when we look at where it came from and how it has developed into what it is today. But again, I say, Christmas is so much more than Christmas.

For those of us of faith, regardless of its origins, it is a time where people may stop and think about that critical question of who Jesus is, what does He mean to them and what do we make of the birth of a baby, in a food trough for animals filled with hay, who died thirty or so years later and we believe rose again defeating death and the grave. Because that is the good news or “gospel” that we hold dear to. Regardless of whether you believe Jesus was divine or not, the actual man Jesus or Yeshua as he was called in Hebrew or Immanuel existed because the Romans, like ancient historian Flavius Josephus, were meticulous record keepers, and why there is so much more to Christmas than Christmas.

Be it a gathering around the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts with those you love or a kaikai at the beach, just taking in the beauty of our beautiful Ipukarea with friends and family or maybe a Church service on Sunday or a Catholic service on the 24th is without doubt an amazing feeling. Whatever the reason may be for your coming together, showing love to one another and simply taking the time to be thankful and grateful that we have each other and are alive, remember there is so much more to Christmas than Christmas.

Every day, and not just Christmas, there is a Father who wants to connect deeply with His children no matter where they are and no matter what they have done or are doing. Because no matter our path, our journey or our decisions, we are all made in His image and all have the ability to connect and reflect the something divine. Kia Manuia rava tatou I teia Kiritimiti e te Mataiti Ou.