What is the True Meaning of Christmas?


Strub Hall decorated during Kris Kinds Pickup

Is there a universal definition for Christmas? Is it centered around the biblical stories about the birth of Jesus? Or maybe the commercial aspects and gift-giving? Spending time with family? Or even a 2-week vacation from school? Christmas is one of the most important Christian holidays of the year but it’s difficult to identify the true meaning of Christmas as there are so many different interpretations to what this holiday entails. 

From a religious standpoint, Christmas is God’s gift to us in the form of the birth of his Son and our Savior, Jesus. Luke 2:10 summarizes an angel’s description of these events: 

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” 

Christmas is the season of joy that assures us of God’s love, and this assurance sustains us throughout the coming new year until the next Advent season. 

From tree lots to Santa Claus in the mall, Christmas has been transformed into a commercial enterprise led by businesspeople and marketers profiting off of the materialistic aspects of this holiday. On the other hand, gift-giving is one of the most common ways people show their affection for others. While the commercialization of Christmas can be seen as a negative, it is also what others look forward to, as gifts serve as cherished reminders of the love shared between family and friends. 

Traveling hours by plane or car to visit family members during the holidays is another important aspect of this celebration. And though it may not be for everyone, singing karaoke, playing board games, reminiscing about past Christmases, or simply enjoying a home-cooked meal are all ways we connect with loved ones during this season. 

This year, the ultimate positive for students who desperately need a reprieve from constant screen time is the two-week Christmas break. Even though studying is still a characteristic of this vacation, especially for upperclassmen, 14 days without a set schedule and the freedom to dictate your actions is an undeniable benefit to this holiday. However, some individuals don’t have this privilege, especially essential workers who are not expecting a respite from on-call hours due to surging Covid-19 cases, therefore, ‘break’ would not be included in their definition of Christmas. 

The birth of Jesus, commercialization and gift-giving, quality time with loved ones, and time off from academics are all equally important characteristics of Christmas. Since nobody holds all of these various situations in the same regard, it is impossible to come up with one all-encompassing definition that incorporates all the perspectives — and that’s okay! Christmas is an inclusive holiday, and what makes it so special is its ability to take on a unique form for every individual who celebrates it. So this Christmas season, consider what is truly important to you and what your distinctive definition is.