Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Speaking Out: Is Christmas still about Christ?

By  Peter Wilson, Youth Speak News
  • December 1, 2021

As the weather turns chillier and Halloween decorations give way to garlands and twinkling lights, modern society alerts us that Christmastime has arrived. It employs many techniques to achieve this effect, but they can all be categorized under one broad word: marketing. 

Yes, modern Western society has essentially managed to reduce the celebration of the world’s most vital historical event into a juicy opportunity to “make a buck.”

Put this in perspective. Our calendars read “2021” because that’s how many years ago Christ was born (BC meaning Before Christ, vs. AD, anno domini — Latin for “in the year of the Lord”). Our measure of time stretches back to the First Noel. But for business tycoons, Christmas is a mere advertising campaign. And here we are, entering the 2021st Christmas season, perhaps more hesitant than ever to even utter our Saviour’s name out in public because of a politically-correct landscape.

It would appear we’ve lost our orientation to the truth and have become a culture completely forgetful of its roots. 

Not so fast.

Our Christian roots, though obscured, still endure in vast quantities. In fact, Christian ideals and traditions permeate our society so thoroughly that once seen, they cannot be unseen.

To discover them, pick a common location present in almost any Canadian city or town. Post offices, grocery stores, supermarkets — any of these will do. During the month of December, casually peruse your chosen location with a conscious effort to spot items inspired by Christ’s birth.

Last Saturday, I walked into my local grocery store. I spotted many festive ornaments that carried religious significance, some being obvious and others obscure. A cereal box, for instance, bore St. Nicholas’s likeness, while a box of chocolates instructed buyers to “gift with love,” the spirit of which is arguably derived from the Magi’s gifts to Christ.

But the significance of these paled in comparison to my best finding: An Advent calendar.

It was one of the tacky ones with cardboard flaps concealing cheap trinkets. It was covered in cartoon reindeer and elves and did not attempt whatsoever to depict Christ’s birth. But the concept on which the item itself was based was not only Christian, but wholly Catholic. 

Advent isn’t just four weeks where consumers open the flaps on their themed calendars. It’s a pivotal part of the Roman Catholic liturgical year. 

Just as Lent and Ordinary Time compel the way Catholics live day-to-day, so does Advent. It’s a season of anticipating the celebration of our Saviour’s birth in a tiny Bethlehem stable.

Every Sunday, we hear readings describing prophecies of the Incarnation. We contemplate man’s struggles to discover the truth before God sent His Son to redeem us. We think of Our Lord shivering in a manger and ask ourselves if accumulating more possessions is necessary.

Above all, Advent is a season of soulful preparation. And to think that this amount of significance was present in a cardboard box labelled $9.99. More than anything, this shows that Christianity is so deeply present in our culture that it often slips our notice. December marketing schemes, glimmering tinsel and mall Santas are all subtle celebrations of Christian heritage. 

Thus, the secularization of the Advent calendar and the season surrounding it tell us that hope is dismal but present nonetheless. Marketing and commercialization can dress up traditions with flashy packaging all they want, but at the end of the day, they encourage consumers to do one thing: celebrate Christ’s birth.

(Wilson, 20, is studying for his Bachelor of  Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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