What does Christmas mean to you? An excuse to exchange gifts, an important gathering of close family and perhaps friends or an opportunity to reflect on the birth of a tiny baby all those centuries ago?
The phrase itself – ‘true meaning of Christmas’ appears to have been around ever since retailers and manufacturers realized how much profit could be made from the commercialization of Christmas – around about the middle of the 19th century.
It was a sentiment increasingly expressed by those concerned about the fact that the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ was being lost under all the commercialization.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
When it comes to defining what Christmas is all about, there’s the meaning according to retail, which is essentially that Christmas = Consumerism whilst for those who work in the industry it’s “the most horrific, exhausting time of the year”.
Then there’s the introspective, benevolent meaning according to those who like to distance themselves from all that’s commercial about Christmas. It goes something like this — ‘ah but do you know what the REAL meaning of Christmas is’ and may be uttered in somewhat condescending tones.
“to give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas” The American magazine, vol. 28 (1889), p. 742.
Finally, there’s the meaning according to the Gospel, which is a whole different thing again.
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 4-19
However you think of Christmas though, the way many of us celebrate it today appears to be an amalgamation of customs dating back to before the birth of Christ and not necessarily associated with that event at all. In fact, they’re more closely connected to pagan celebrations around the winter solstice, which occurs on December 25 in the old calendar.
There are several theories about how this date came to be associated with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth and both interestingly relate to the annual solar pattern. The ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival of light called Saturnalia, held in honor of the deity Saturn.
It ran from the 17th of December on the Julian calendar through to the 23rd and was a time of festivities, gift giving and celebration (sound familiar?) to mark the renewal of light. The Roman emperor Aurelian also established a festival on the 25th of December to celebrate “the birthday of the Unconquerable Sun”, a direct reference to the ‘rebirth’ of the sun after the winter solstice.
Add in a line of biblical verse that identifies Jesus as the “Sun of righteousness” and the solar connection becomes evident, leading to the theory that this connection may have played a role in determining the 25th of December as his official birth date.
Another theory is that it is exactly 9 months after the supposed conception, or Annunciation, of Jesus, said to have occurred on March 25, which is also appropriately the Spring Equinox.
Regardless of how December 25th and the birth of Jesus of Nazareth came to be tied together, the fact remains that it is one of the two most important dates on the Christian calendar, the other being Easter.
It’s been celebrated in various ways in various cultures down through the ages ever since but the modern concept of Christmas as being a time of holiday, family, goodwill and compassion for others probably owes as much to the hugely popular 1843 Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol as it does to anything else.
Certainly, due to its instant popularity when originally released, the novel has been linked to a revival of the ‘spirit’ and seasonal jollity of Christmas. And lest we forget — at least one of the several cinematic versions of the Christmas classic is inevitably served up as staple television fare at least once each festive season.
Along with other Christmas classics like the 1989 Chevy Chase classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or the first of the Home Alone movies.
Whatever your take on Christmas though I wish you a Merry one and a happy and prosperous New Year.
‘Twas The Night Before Christmas in Costa Rica …
You can see Becky’s awesome video about the region from Playa Avellanas to Playas del Coco in Guanacaste by clicking here.
Written by who lives near Playa Flamingo, North west Guanacaste with her two sons both born in Costa Rica, Kian (born in 2007) and Elijah (2010).
Becky is a dual Citizen of Costa Rica and the USA and allowed to work as a Costa Rica Realtor who covers the area from Playa Avellanas to Playa Potrero.
She has been professionally involved with Costa Rica real estate since 2005 however, Becky has had an active license in Florida, USA since 2003, she has been a real estate investor since 2001 and a Costa Rica Realtor since 2006. She has knowledge in residential, commercial, and investment real estate.
If you would like to chat with our Recommended Costa Rica Realtor Rebecca Clower about buying a home, condo or land on which to build your own dream home in the area from Playa Avellanas to Playas del Coco in Guanacaste, please help us to help you by using the simple form below:
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