It seems like every year I write something on the history of Christmas. The first year that I gave a talk on “When was Jesus really born?”, I could see the disbelieving faces betraying their certainty that I had become a heretic. One year I wrote a column for the local paper on the origins of popular Christmas customs that got me more than a few nasty responses. So here we are again trying to get Christ back into Christmas with little recognition that we Christians tried to take over a well established Roman solstice celebration somewhere around the fourth century, and then kept on trying to do it in the other northern cultures we encountered, each with their own solstice celebrations. Never had much success, but we’re still trying.
I think we should give up, relax, enjoy the pagan rituals that surround us and that are not offensive to our faith, and get on with parallel celebration of our Christ’s Mass without trying to merge the two. It’s a battle we lost centuries ago and continue to lose each year. As for me and my household, we will observe Advent and the Christian Christmas, but we will also enjoy gifts, wreaths, trees, lights, parties, etc. Besides, it’s one of the two times in the year when marginal and non-Christians will show up in church, and we should make the most of it with boldly inviting proclamations of the Good News of God in Christ.