Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Meaning of Christmas

Source: Vancouver Sun

The Vancouver Sun put together this roundtable titled Any meaning in Christmas? An atheist, Christian, Sikh and ethnic Chinese respond. The article is quite lengthy but a very good read as to how Christmas is viewed in multicultural Vancouver.

In a multifaith and consumer-oriented country like Canada, we explored how Christmas comes with a dizzying array of hard-to-measure meanings.

Some are deep. Others are superficial -- unless you can find profundity, as the participants laughed, in the Santa Claus song, All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.

The person who acknowledged having the most at stake in Christmas was Lynn Szabo, head of the literature department at Trinity Western University, a Christian school in Langley.

Szabo found deep religious truth in the Christmas story of God becoming one with humanity through the birth of Jesus, acknowledging she embraced the traditional belief in Jesus' virgin birth (which many liberal Christians do not).

But Capilano University philosophy professor Stan Persky, who is gay, had trouble with how Christianity and its often-conservative members have at times thrust their values in his face at Christmas. Persky said he finds orthodox Christian theology strange.

Rajvir Kaur Basra, a Surrey-raised Sikh in the community relations business, started off joking that at Christmas she "celebrates commercialism."

Most Indo-Canadians have fun with Christmas trees, Christmas dinners and giving presents at this time of year, she said. But mostly they like a few days off work.

Ed Shen, a Hong-Kong raised Vancouver psychologist who informally follows Eastern forms of spirituality, has nevertheless sometimes found satisfaction in sitting in on a Christmas service.

As a psychologist, Shen maintained that Christmas has become a "canvas" on which people project their own meaning. Some love to be with family. Others look inward. Some celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom they consider the Messiah. Others make a "religion" of shopping. Is one better than another?

Closing Comments (Video)

I would have to say my Christmas experience is most like that of Basra's. My family is Taoist and we celebrate the Lunar New Year more than Christmas. But Christmas is a time to have a family gathering, exchange small gifts and eat like a pig!


Anonymous said...

We're not Christians but growing up in England of course has shaped our behaviour and attitude. So for my family Christmas has always been a time we stop working for a few days and hang out together and eat a nice roast dinner which mum will prepare.

Degenerasian said...

Yes. Same here in Canada.
A time to eat and relax.
We don't go too crazy on the presents.

Cassey said...

Christmas is another "excuse"
to spend more time with our family and friends even if we dont really celebrate it =D

*~* Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family *~*

Anonymous said...

It's mainly a time for family, dinner and relaxing.