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Rediscovering the Christmas Spirit


Holydays are at the core of each civilization. Although religion often falls on secondary position in the hierarchy dictated by society religious holydays are kept as tradition and identity perpetuators. Holydays like Christmas are able to bring family and friends together, overcoming obstacles like big distances or cold feelings. But if we look around, the spirit of Christmas has been hidden beneath layers and layers of superficiality. It’s time to look closer at the true spirit of this holyday, an attempt of rediscovery.

The first layer we added to Christmas is that of satisfaction. We all perceive the Christmas table as one at which we eat and drink until we feel fill, and sometimes even ill. Hospitals report an increased number of cases of people complaining from all sort of digestive related problems. In an attempt to feel satisfied with our lives, we use Christmas and other important holydays as excuses for indulging our bodies with a diet that goes far from being healthy. Therefore, this first layer addresses one of our primordial needs, that of being well fed. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is being put together with other aspects. Each Christmas meal needs to be addressed in a context of sharing and moderation. A good rule of healthy living states that you should never leave the table being completely full, especially if we face a period when psychical activities are limited in number and duration.

Everybody knows that Christmas starts at the beginning of December, or even in November, and ends somewhere in January. At least this is what marketing companies want us to believe. Under the umbrella that they promote the act of giving, shops worldwide welcome a festive atmosphere in order to enhance the transition of funds from your account to theirs. Of course, it’s hard to blame the shopping fever, as long as it allows for happiness to be attached to it, but in this way, Christmas is becoming more and more tied to the material world, and less on the spiritual one. Christmas has been perverted to being the best time of the year for increasing sells and all of its symbols serve this purpose. The hero of the day, Santa Claus, unanimously perceived as the symbol of Christmas on a worldwide basis, is nothing more than an impostor, a result of marketing.

Decorations make Christmas brighter and more cheerful, but are they really necessary. For most families, bringing a dead tree and decorating it is at the core of celebrating Christmas and the winter holydays. Far from being as destructive as large scale deforestation for example, the act itself serves more as a barometer of willingness to conform to any social norm accepted by the majority. Failing to comply with what is nothing more than a recent tradition, having nothing to do with the real religious event, is often perceived as unacceptable. The family without a Christmas tree is condemned to have a dull holyday and a year full of bad luck. Colored lights indeed change the face of the city, but are they really necessary in order to make feel the average citizen feel better? Decorations are nothing more than a superficial layer of society. Real problems like pollution and agglomeration in an urban environment are all silenced down beneath Christmas decoration and receive a month of relief each year.

The real spirit of Christmas resides in less tangible and quantifiable ways. Seeing someone after a long time can serve as the biggest gift, while a simple meal can satisfy not only the body, but also the mind, if shared with the right person. Cherishing new life (the religious motif behind Christmas) would dictate that even the simple tree is sparred from destruction. The best gift is not the one with the highest price tag, but the one made with the biggest sacrifice or the one addressing a real need. Kindness should come unprovoked and without serving a purpose in order to reflect the true spirit of Christmas. But the biggest change needs to come at the level of building a mentality. There is not a single correct way to cherish Christmas, but every heart is welcomed to set steps on its own path.

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