Once in a while, people ask me this question: “Do you celebrate Christmas?”
They know I’m a Buddhist and they associate Christmas with Christianity.
But I still think it’s a weird question. It doesn’t bother me, really, but I think it’s weird.
I do celebrate Christmas. In my house, we hang lights, put up a tree and exchange gifts. My kids even believe in Santa.
All of this, even though I don’t believe in Christ.
Is Christmas a religious holiday? I tend to think it isn’t anymore, if it ever was.
Santa, Reindeer, Mistletoe, Christmas Trees; none of these things have anything to do with Jesus. I wonder how many people spend Christmas having quality time with their families and how many people spend it in a church. I know there are a lot more songs about Santa and snow than there are about Jesus. I think that doesn’t really matter because it’s more about the virtues Jesus represents than it is about Jesus, but maybe a believer would be more qualified to comment on that than I am.
It is a United States Federal Holiday. Is this because most Americans are Christian? Or is there some other reason?
People who are just a little bit religious celebrate it too, as do people that aren’t religious at all. It isn’t just the devout.
To me, it’s a secular holiday.
We celebrate good will, kindness, and generosity. These are Buddhist virtues as well as Christian ones.
So, in a sense, it’s a good holiday for Buddhists too. We emphasize these virtues constantly in Buddhism. Compassion and love are fundamental principles in Buddhism. Generosity is one of the six perfections.
Christmas is so powerful because of these virtues that it celebrates, I think. It’s also a holiday where we spend quality time with our families, enjoying each other’s company. Of course we just did that a month ago for Thanksgiving, but we can do it again. Quality time with our families is probably a good idea. Some people only see their families on Christmas.
As far as I know, every Buddhist that I know celebrates Christmas.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author