Writing this two days after Christmas with the haze of roast potatoes, wrapping paper and chocolate somewhat diminished, I can reflect upon Christmas and what it means in our multi-faith society. Pointedly how at the end of a year dominated by a worldwide pandemic with a Christmas lacking the usual parties, people and pantomimes it has forced us to find new ways of celebrating and being with each other during the festive period. For example my household all sat down to watch the Old Vic’s live streaming of a Christmas Carol, saw various family members on Zoom and replaced the parties with walks round the park with mulled wine in hand. As someone who follows no religion for me Christmas has always been a time for family and friends, however for those who do worship I can appreciate how the current restrictions would have added yet another shadow to this usually joyful and celebratory period.
Christmas, traditionally a Christian holy day marks the birth of Jesus on the 25th December, who Christians believe to be the Son of God. A story that is retold by children performing nativity plays across the world, celebrated at church services with carol singing as well as a midnight mass and marked by a dinner featuring turkey, Christmas pudding, family and friends. With the notion of gift giving coming from the three kings bringing presents to the baby Jesus.
Additionally some of those who follow the teachings of Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism and Buddhism as well those of Agnostic and Atheist beliefs do take part in some of the traditions and ideals of Christmas during December. For example the giving and receiving of gifts, as well as sitting down for a meal with family and seeing friends. Showing that whilst they are not celebrating the birth of Jesus, they are celebrating their lives, friendships and family with each other. That the concept of Christmas being a time for celebrating life is something that can be translated into any faith and set of values.