Christmas Season, which celebrates the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is fast changing from a religious holy day to a secular holiday. This change is not because of direct attacks upon the feast. Some years ago, open attacks on Christmas by retailers did not produce the desired results. A powerful reaction forced staff to say once again Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.
The problem of the disappearing Christmas is not so much a war of commission but, sadly, of omission. Today’s hedonistic irreligious culture of today wages a silent war on Christmas that is not readily apparent. The secular combatants follow the salami principle; undermine Christmas one slice at a time.
The anti-Christmas crowd has chosen to avoid frontal assaults diminishing the importance of Christmas by quietly eliminating important Christmas traditions and events. Its advocates seek to dethrone Our Lord Jesus Christ among Christians by making people forget what Christmas once was.
Christmas was once the preeminent holy day and even a national holiday across America. Families prepared for Christmas during Advent by praying, doing penance, decorating the home, preparing the crèche, baking and selecting gifts for family and friends.
The focus was not on the externals but instead on what they represented. In better times, decorating, cooking and gift-giving were symbols of adoration to the New Born King. At Christmas, families prepared everything by giving their best to the holiday, symbolic of Our Lord giving His perfect self to humanity. Delicacies requiring some expense and much effort reflected the importance of Christmas. Such preparations created a sense of wonder in families and especially in children.
Christmas ceremonies impacted souls so much that even non-Catholics attended Midnight Mass. People, who never entered a Church during the year, went to Christmas Mass. The grace of Christmas was an incredible magnet attracting souls.
Traditional Christmas celebrations created lifelong memories. Those families with rich Yuletide traditions recall Christmases both as children and adults. People remember the sense of sacrality in the Church, home, and public places.
Some devotions for the day included special prayers or reading the Gospel account of the Nativity. Some prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Others gathered for a banquet using their best china. Everyone opened gifts and sang Christmas carols. This is in contrast to today, when Christmas can be similar to other days.
This family celebration was extended into the community. Stores piped in traditional Christmas carols over their sound systems. Special Christmas candles were sold at stores during this time. To the delight of the children, Christmas candy was also offered to create the impression in the child’s mind that Christmas was important and special. Cities and small towns commonly displayed Nativity scenes, as did stores, courthouses and businesses.
Larger cities used to have stores that sold Christmas items all year round. Some had a large variety of different nativity sets from around the world. There were also lights, ornaments and decorations.
Those who believe in Christmas can win this silent war against Christmas by going on the offensive. Traditional Christmas customs should be dusted off and practiced. Ask older relatives how Christmas used to be celebrated. Research past Christmas customs online or in books. Develop your own Catholic customs that can be handed down as traditions.
To keep Christ in Christmas, consider holding a Christmas Public Square Rosary Rally during Advent to encourage others to seek the true meaning of Christmas. Sing loudly Christmas carols with family and friends as yet another way to end the silent war on Christmas. It is never too late to welcome the Christ Child into the home and community.