As we come together this Christmas season, we recognize it as a time to be with family and friends, to spread joy and lots of cheer, talk of peace and even do some goodwill. However, instead of hearing “Merry Christmas” from my many co-workers and acquaintances, the phrase that I have been hearing much this particular year is “happy holidays”. Why do we say this? We do not say Happy Holidays around memorial day, or independence day. But around this time of year you hear people say “happy holidays”.
Indeed, there is just cause to this phrase, for if you take a look at the calendar, there are 3 holidays in the month of December (4 if you count New Years Eve as a holiday versus New Years Day). So what are the 3 holidays. Below is a cut out from a news source on the three holidays that are celebrated around the same time in December and what they mean.
Kwanzaa, or “First Fruits of the Harvest,” is a week-long holiday celebrated throughout the world, honoring African heritage, marked by participants lighting a kinara (candle holder). Over the seven-day period, the fundamental “principals” of Kwanzaa are celebrated.
The Seven Principals of Kwanzaa are:
• Umoja (Unity)
• Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
• Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
• Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
• Nia (Purpose)
• Kuumba (Creativity)
• Imani (Faith)
Hanukkah or Chanukah
Hanukkah—the Hebrew word for “dedication”—is the annual Jewish festival that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the second century BCE. It is an eight-day celebration, beginning on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (or approximately the month of December on our standard calendar). Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights.
The festival is observed by the lighting of candles on a special candelabrum, the Menorah or Hanukiah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.
Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that marks and honors the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. His birth, which is the basis for the Anno Domini system of dating, has been determined by modern historians as having occurred between 7 and 2 B.C.
Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, church celebrations and the display of various decorations—including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival.
Similarity of the 3
Although, these holidays and their traditions differ in many ways, I found a common thread weaved through them. Interestingly, these 3 holidays all relate to, or place focus on, some form of light. For Kwanzaa, it is the lighting of one candle; while for Hanukkah, it is the lighting of 8 candles; and for contemporary Christmas, it is the lighting of many decorative lights. What is so fascinating and distinctive about light that cause all three holidays to place emphasis on it? Is it that during a season known for its longer nights everyone just naturally gravitates toward light? Or, could it be that since light represents heat and purity it simply provides a better focus point for the cold and darkness of December?
The Light of God is Christ
It is true that people naturally are drawn to the light. From the beginning there was utter darkness upon the world until the word was spoken, the word which the Gospel of John correlates to the light of life (John 1). This natural tendency toward light is because people are looking for something that will give them life; the meaning for existence and the hope of tomorrows.
However, my dear friends, the light of life isn’t found in 7 good principles for living nor in a re-dedication of your life toward something good and positive, it isn’t found in the best presentation or display of superiority. My friends, the light of life is Jesus Christ and in Him only will you find the meaning for existence and the hope of tomorrows; will you find life everlasting. On His birthday, may we focus on the light He gave and the life He brought. No happy holidays here, for everything I need is found in one place……CHRIST!
And so, to all of you today I say….. Merry Christmas!