Observations from the Edge

How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?

How would Jesus celebrate Christmas? When I asked this question last week, I did so with the knowledge that Jesus predates Christmas historically by a few hundred years and that Judaism didn’t, and doesn’t, venerate the birth of the Christ child. The question was rhetorical, but the inquiry itself sincere.
If we accept the premise of the question “How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?” as an exercise in critical thought, mixing myth with metaphor is unavoidable. After all, Christmas as we know it is a merging of myth and mendacity, religion and retail. So why not throw in a little time travel as well?
“How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?”
As a non-Christian, tree-hugging iconoclast, I ask this question to shed some light on the real reasons for the seasons and holiday contradictions that define the modern Christian holiday. I mean really, would Jesus be caught dead wearing jingle bells and plush reindeer antlers?
Going to the New Testament, Matthew chapter 6, verse 19 , “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.”
The text suggests Jesus would not be at Wal-Mart before sunrise looking for Black Friday bargains. In fact, it would seem Jesus would have had something to say about ritual gift giving.
Jesus was not in to stuff. And if Jesus wasn’t in to stuff, reason follows that presents and trees to put them under would probably not factor into his birthday festivities. Jesus was also not into garish displays of charity; “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” Matthew chapter 6, verse 1.
From my limited Bible study it’s safe to say Jesus disapproved of gluttony and excessive drink, and because Jesus was Jewish we can rule out Christmas ham, drunken eggnog, and the mountains of candy, cookies, cakes and other sugar bombs we gorge ourselves in honor of the birth of the Christ child.
Jesus would also not go into debt in order to spend lavishly as dictated by the western tradition of conspicuous consumption.
So basically everything associated with Christmas is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Judaism that shaped his faith. Can you image how Jesus would respond to Christmas lights, fake snow and the amount of solid waste generated as a result of Christmas gift giving?
In fact, Jesus wouldn’t have celebrated his birthday, as it was not the tradition, nor the custom to do so until A.D. 336.
From what I could ascertain, the answer to my question is Jesus would humbly spend the anniversary of his birth in service to others less fortunate. You know, feeding the poor, tending to the sick, promoting simplicity and sacrifice and encouraging general grooviness to all who would hear his message of care and compassion.
Jesus didn’t “do” Christmas.

1 comment

Sean from Oceanside December 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Well said Bob. Like so many other things in life religion has been used to promote corporate greed. Unfortunately the church has used this same philosophy to push it’s own corporate agenda and the result is a very un-Jesus like holiday full of wasteful spending and too much darn debt. I appreciate you stepping out of the socially accepted norm and pointing out the reality of life without the rose tinted glasses.


Comments are closed.