Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas and tradition

In folk music, people refer to "the folk process" as how songs change as they are handed down from person to person. I think the same goes for any tradition. People change them to meet the needs of the times and the individuals. Some people cherish traditions and don't think they should be changed. I don't think we should change just for the sake of change, nor stay the same just for the sake of staying the same. If we cherish a tradition, then let's not change it. Some people can do something a new way if they like it better that way, while others can keep doing it the old way if that's what they prefer.

The problem is that people observe traditions communally, and those who participate together may not all agree on which way they prefer. Sometimes some compromise and communication is needed.

Christmas is a big holiday in the US. It was "originally" supposed to be about the birth of Jesus, but it has grown way beyond that. Some people participate in Christmas rituals even if the holiday has no religious significance for them. Some people might think that's silly, to go through the motions of Christmas without believing in the religious meaning. I would say it's not silly. It just shows that the traditions of Christmas have evolved, as all traditions evolve. People find something of value in certain rituals of Christmas, even though the religious aspects may not have meaning for them. And, Christmas was actually adapted from pagan solstice celebrations, so it's not exactly true that the original meaning of the holiday was Christian.

For those who find great Christian significance in their Christmas traditions, that's fine with me. But it's also fine with me that for some people, it's more of a solstice celebration, a holiday about bringing warmth and light to a time of darkness. The materialistic version of Christmas is not as fine with me, not because I think it's wrong that people have taken the Christianity out of Christmas, but because I don't think our society's excessive materialism is healthy for humanity or the earth.

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