What are the stats?
It’s Christmas day here on Bali, yet it feels like any other day for me and my family. Today I got sent a gif of Jesus knocking on my door from an acquaintance who assumed I am Christian. I’m not sure how she got that impression, as I am married to a Hindu and I’m a practicing Shaman who openly shares with people I encounter that I am choosing a path of consciousness free from the dogma of religion.
Anyway, I only share this with all of you, because there are so many people in the world who assume that most people are Christian. I guess they are right to assume? According to Conrad Hackett and David McClendon in their article: ‘Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe,’ (www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank 2017/04/05) the world’s population consists of 31% Christians, 24% Muslims, 16% unaffiliated and 15.1% are Hindus. My family falls into the 15.1% although I am not a practicing Hindu.
What is the history of Dec. 25th?
History convincingly shows us that Christ was born on December 25th which is actually a pagan holiday. Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then … to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism” (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, 1970, p. 62).
In reality, shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7 – 8). This means they were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea; it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (p. 309).
Similarly, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.
The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year ( The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).
It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.
Billions are Spent on Gifts for Christmas
So many people around the world are exchanging gifts on Christmas day and going to church to celebrate Christ’s birth. They are feeling the love and good vibes of their family and friend’s during this festive season. Ironically, Dec. 25th isn’t even when Christ was born. No other holiday in the world produces such mass consumerism than Christmas. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. And Brits will spend more than £19 billion on presents, eat 308 million slices of turkey.
Abigail Comber, head of brand and customer experience at British Airways said: “It’s staggering what we Brits will invest in the Christmas period – £19 billion on presents and £4.9 billion on nights out.”
If we all decided tomorrow to celebrate Christmas in a different way — to choose to spend that money on feeding millions of people who are starving or malnourished, to fund projects that would build homes for the poor and homeless, to sponsor a child’s education in a developing country, what would our world be like?
Let’s celebrate our commitment to helping humanity and our environment next year by choosing not to celebrate the mass consumerism of December 25th. What would Christ really want for us and the world. I’m guessing that his teachings were about loving one another by extending our hand to truly help humankind through our generosity of spirit, compassion, deep desire to make our world a better place. What will you choose for December 25, 2019?