Reflection on Christmas 2020

14/1//2021

Christmas 2020.  We finally got here, despite the traumas which we have experienced during the year.  Christmas survives. It is a different Christmas to last year and certainty a very different Christmas to past years.

Christmas has changed over the decades in regards to its traditional meaning and its observance. Commercialism, secularism and political correctness have taken its toll. As an example of the latter, for some it is “happy holiday” rather than “Merry Christmas”.  This was highlighted with the Obama American Presidency, when he sent out cards with similar words.

Tasmania has seen great changes as well.

For the vast majority of Christians, including of those who are nominal, it heralds the birth of Jesus Christ and provides a Message of Hope for mankind. For the staunch Christian fundamentalist, Christmas is not honoured as they believe December 25th was observed by early European pagans who celebrated the changing of the seasons on that day. Later the Church put a Christmas meaning to it. Various sects contend that it not scriptural, so the day should be ignored.  

Historically, the first Christmas was not observed until more than three hundred years after the birth of Christ. Therefore, originally, there was no Christmas.  For Tasmania, the first Christmas came with Lt John Bowen RN who settled at Risdon Cove.  He held the first one, December 25, 1803. The following year came Colonel David Collins and with him the Rev Robert (Bobby) Knopwood and the first Christmas in Hobart was held December 25, 1804.

In the north of the State, Colonel William Paterson arrived in 1804 with 181 settlers and although I cannot find any documentation of the observance of Christmas, I have no doubt it was held.

In Australia the first ever recorded Christmas (referred to as Yuletide) took place in Governor’s Phillip’s modest residence at Sydney Cove, December 25, 1788,

Christmas 2020 will again be a day of family visiting, wonderful meals, gifts, watching the delights of children, picnics and for some, religious observances. Yet there will also be businesses operating and mass entertainment aired as though it was is just another day.

It was very different once – and not so long ago.  When black and white television was introduced into Tasmania for a number of years on this special day, only religious programmes were presented.  It was the same for the wireless (radio) until a certain hour in the evening, only religious and Christmas music was aired.  Businesses were closed for the day.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, rested and had the time to catch up with family. Churches were full with many who rarely went to church making this day a particular reason to attend.

In short there was more reverence, more respect and a more relaxed day. Christmas has always been commercial, but the sense and belief that it had a spiritual significance was recognised.

We live in a very secular society. The meaning of Christmas may be still there, but it has faded into the back ground. It is now no longer fully acknowledged.  Perhaps we have become too embarrassed over its meaning?  After all, don’t we live in a multi-cultural society, one of many faiths and cultures?  We certainly do not want to offend anyone. Yet in all my years (and I am now matured) I have never, ever, met a person (outside Ebenezer Scrooge) who wanted Christmas or even its meaning, banned.  I stress no atheist have I met, agnostic or those of a different faith or culture have expressed a desire to do so. They are content to enjoy Christmas Day in their own way and while they may not observe its religious significance, they are not the ones complaining.  Are we being therefore, socially manipulated and non-Christians being used as an excuse?

I personally think we have lost some of the quality of Christmas.  For me I thoroughly enjoy the carols, Christmas cards, the lights, the goodwill, the food, the fun, the family, the visiting.  Perhaps we should regain some of that something that made Christmas a day of uniqueness, specialness with a spiritual meaning. A child-like expectation.

Times are grim enough and those who wish to see the end of Christmas, I say “Bah Humbug”. Let’s continue to enjoy ourselves and observe Christmas for many years to come.  And yes,

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL


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