A tree adorned with Christmas lights over looks a valley near Copper Ridge Trail in Whitehorse. (Crystal Schick/ Black Press)

A tree adorned with Christmas lights over looks a valley near Copper Ridge Trail in Whitehorse. (Crystal Schick/ Black Press)

OPINION: Christmas isn’t a day, it’s an idea to embrace

However you celebrate the season, please do it with a cup half full and let’s aim for better in 2021

Tomorrow will be my 50th Christmas spinning around the sun on this planet we all share.

If you are reading this in print, I hope you are having a happy holiday. I hope you aren’t alone, if you don’t want to be. I hope you are feeling some joy, particularly if joy has been in short supply of late.

Not everyone, of course, celebrates Christmas on Earth nor does everyone even in Chilliwack. Our city, our province and our country, is increasingly diverse with members of other religions and cultures sharing their holidays, their traditions, their foods and ceremonies.

Still, Christmas has a special place for most of us in Canada, even for some folks who adhere to religions other than Christianity, and as much so for secular people and even atheists. In part, that’s because many of us of who are of European ancestry came from countries where Christianity dominated. But also because historically Christmas, this winter festival, isn’t necessarily about Christ.

Christmas is at once a revered religious holiday and a cultural phenomenon. Close to the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, usually around Dec. 21, the winter solstice was celebrated thousands of years before the birth of the person referred to as Jesus.

It was a time to celebrate with light, with large fires, a time to slaughter animals and eat, dip into fermented beverages brewed months before. There are aspects of the ancient celebration of the solstice that absolutely are mirrored today in the most pious of homes on Christmas.

RELATED: The Christmas list: Where and how to give, receive in Chilliwack

RELATED: Single father of three in Chilliwack receives vehicle in Christmas Car Giveaway

Of course, no one knows when Jesus was born, there is serious historical debate if Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who the scriptures say he was. But in the fourth century, Dec. 25 was chosen by Pope Julius I as the birthday of Jesus, essentially to choose a time when the pagans were already celebrating. This was essentially marketing, and it worked well.

Dec. 25 has lingered as the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, or for many others, a toast to friends and family. For kids, Santa Claus is anticipated for his giving ways, and we celebrate the end of the dark days and the beginning of light.

There are, of course, many other world religions that celebrate on or near Dec. 25 in various ways similar and differently than Christians. The Jewish festival of Hannukkah was Dec. 10 to 18 this year. The African-American Kwanzaa is a celebration that runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Yalda Night is an Iranian winter solstice festival on Dec. 21.

Christianity and paganism and other religions really aren’t so different after all, at least metaphorically in this pure and simple way. We all want to be good, to be free from sin, to leave the dark corners of our world and look up to the light, and imagine something better.

It seems trite to say it, but at the end of the day we are all so much more alike than we are different. The most violent white supremacist and the humblest Inuit seal hunter share 99.9 per cent of our DNA, the last 0.1 per cent making skin dark or light, hair black or blond.

It’s at this time of year, with a moment to relax, to ponder, to disconnect from social media, that it’s important to remember this, and to see if we can move forward together rather than apart.

Christmas isn’t one day, it’s an idea. It’s a celebration about us getting together as family, friends, neighbours, whether in person or virtually, whether this week or later and just sharing.

Whether you chop a tree or light candles, set up a crèche or cut paper snowflakes, whatever you do for your tradition this time of year, do it with your cup half full so that this dumpster fire of a year can be extinguished and we can rise up to something greater in 2021.

Merry Christmas, Chilliwack. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, cheers to you and yours.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Chilliwack firefighters watch as an O’Connor Towing operator removes a stolen Volkswagen station wagon from the Fraser River off Cannor Road in west Chilliwack on June 13, 2021. (William Snow photo)
PHOTOS: Stolen vehicle dumped in Fraser River in Chilliwack Sunday

Search and Rescue determined there was no one inside the car found upside down off Cannor Road

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read