I was speaking yesterday with a friend of mine on the phone, and he told me that it was difficult in his family right now because his children wanted to know why there so much Christmas at this time of the year and so little Hannuka. (He and his family are Jewish, obviously.) He was a little surprised when I said that we had a somewhat similar problem in our family, because much that passes for "Christmas" during this season is really not Christian at all, at least in our view, but really pagan. The date, as you know, is a Roman holiday, Saturnalia, (by the way, did you know that the Romans killed Jesus? I bet you someone told you it was the Jews), that the Christmas tree is from the Druids, who delighted in human sacrifice, and that the gifts are from Toys-R-Us. (If you read the New Testament carefully, you will see that the Wise Men, who brought gifts to Jesus, did not come at his birth but as long as two years later. There were not three of them - we don't know know how many they were - and they were not kings. There was a gift when Jesus was born, however, it was a gift of God from God to us, as Christians view it.)
So its difficult for Christian families during this season as well, maybe more difficult than Jewish families, difficult to penetrate the noise, the glitter, the conflicting and often destructive traditions, and to figure out what this is all really about. I would think that Christmas is a good time for Jewish families to reclaim a sense of who they are, in contrast to what Main Street is selling, and I think it is also a good time for Christians to do that. I would say, however, that the Jews are at somewhat of an advantage here, because it obvious that the American culture is not masquerading as a Jewish culture. It is masquerading as a Christian culture, however, and has taken a lot of Christians in. Jesus is not the reason for the Season, as many of my co-religionists assert. To be very honest, there are other reasons for the Season, none of them having to do with Messiah, and I, for one, am not happy about them.
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