I'm taking Sylvia's dare and blogging :)
A few weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that radio stations in Philadelphia had begun to play Christmas music. I was astounded. A few days later, I realized that radio stations in my area were doing the same thing. What is going on here? Not only are stores putting us Christmas decoration the day after Halloween, Christmas/"holiday" music is now being played at the beginning of November. My initial reaction to this has been incredulity, and I've been trying to figure out the reasons behind this "Christmas craze."
I think the root of the problem lies in the lost, bored, and lonely feelings of secular society. Without faith, life loses much of its meaning. I've often thought how sad it must be for non-Catholics who go through life with hardly any fasting or feasting. The cycle of the Church calendar is actually very important for our human psyche, especially since we've lost the natural agrarian change of seasons. Having feasts, and celebrations, and times of fasting and penance, apart from their inherent religious significance, provides change and interest in our daily lives as events to look forward to and prepare for. Fasting gives meaning to feasting, and feast days throughout the year allow us to relax, celebrate, and take a break from daily life.
It is this idea of looking forward and celebrating that, I believe, lies at the root of the Christmas craze. Christmas is the only holiday which our secular society still really celebrates. Although the true meaning of Christmas is often overlooked, who can deny that just about everyone gets excited about Christmas? For once a year, people think again about family, giving, peace on earth, etc. Ideally, it's an opportunity for celebrating. And because it only comes once a year, people want to enjoy it as long as they can. Of course, without faith, secular society goes about it the wrong way. Christmas decorations, constant Christmas songs, tons of shopping for food and gifts, parties galore; these are the ways people try to fill the emptiness in their hearts, and they look for more opportunities to do it. And it won't make them happy. After all, that's the reason behind the depression which can follow the holidays. People get all hyped up, but there hearts are never truly filled, and so even Christmas leaves them empty. If you've ever experienced this, take a look at how your prepare for, and celebrate, Christmas. Do you prepare for Christ's birthday, and celebrate Advent and Christmas with spiritual fervor, or do you let yourself get caught up in shopping, decorating, partying, etc.?
I love Christmas. I love the decorations, and food, and family celebrations. And yes, I enjoy hearing the Christmas music on the radio. But I know there is more to the "holy-day" than all that. So while the world is telling us to "celebrate the season," let's try to remember what the "season" really is. First, it's November, the month of the Holy Souls, and we should be offering extra prayers for the souls in purgatory. Second, this Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. Third, Thanksgiving is next week, a time to give thanks for all our blessings, and spend time with our family, instead of worrying which stores to visit, and what to buy, on Black Friday. Fourth, Advent will begin on November 30, and we should recall that it is a time of preparation. The rigors of Lent are not asked, but we should make an effort to pray, sacrifice, and prepare spiritually for the birth of the Savior.
We are entering a season of joy, but above all it should be a spiritual joy. Instead of just preparing for Christmas Day, and then suffering from post-holiday depression, let's concentrate on today, and the upcoming feasts, celebrations, and Advent season. Try a little extra prayer and sacrifice this season, then go to a good Christmas Mass. I think you'll enjoy the holidays a whole lot more. And while we can enjoy the early Christmas music, let it be a reminder to pray for all those who don't know the true meaning of Christmas.