Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Christmas is now nearing as of this writing. Christmas bell tolls, kids’ carols, merry songs & dances are now up in the air, inviting everyone else to share the spirit of fun and camaraderie.
A Christian and sectarian holiday Christmas is, no one doubts this. Granted that Christmas is a sectarian affair, is it possible to transform it into a global/universal, multi-cultural event? There are apparently two (2) perspectives that clash concerning the matter.
From the point of view of fundamentalist, ultra-conservative church practitioners, whether Christian or non-Christian, Christmas is a sectarian affair and should not veer into cultural spaces not meant for its observation. A Muslim fundamentalist would throw monkey wrench at any attempt to globalize Christmas, and the same may be true for those fundamentalists of other denominations.
From the vantage point of a non-fundamentalist, cosmopolitan person, Christmas is one occasion that Christians can share to others. It is a multi-cultural affair, and it belongs to the whole of humanity for that matter. Ergo, everyone on Earth better attunes to the Christmas spirit and feel the ‘family of mankind’ fraternal bonds that the affair espouses.
As to where I stand in that polarity of perspectives, I am among those who wish to share the Christmas spirit as a multi-cultural blessing. Born a Catholic, but now a freethinker who espouses post-church spirituality, I remain attuned to the Christmas holidays just the same for the reasons stated above.
Christianity is a cult of Jesus, and I will have nothing to do with following or propagating such a cult. Esoteric Christianity, however, isn’t the same as the folk Christianity of the flocks who regard Jesus as a cult figure, and I squarely stand on the grounds of this mystical version of Christianity.
Esoteric Christianity teaches universal brotherhood among its core lessons. Universal brotherhood, a battle cry of cosmopolitan esotericists, is still a very valid principle to stand up for. It is the ethos that permits a soul to go beyond the bounds of sectarian precepts, embrace fellow humans as co-family members, and build a culture of dialogue across the planet.
I do hope that the more cosmopolitan Christians would consciously invite non-Christians to be part of the holidays, truly embrace their non-Christian brothers and sisters, and allow the latter to participate in such year-end party rituals as gift-giving. And, invite the non-Christians to 24th of December midnight gathering, where they can sit by the Christmas tree and partake of the food blessings for the occasion.
Non-Christians who may not be invited by Christians in their homes on the 24th & 25th of December can also go ahead and celebrate the affair with their families and friends on the said dates. Nothing is wrong for them to put up a Christmas tree at home and party on the 24th midnight and on the 25th of December. And, at the end of the month, celebrate New Year’s Eve too.
In the Philippines, the transformation of Christmas into a multi-cultural event has already been going on in the 60s till 1972. Unfortunately, the Mindanao War came, a Christian-Muslim schism was propagated, and Muslims became reluctant to celebrate Christmas with their brethrens among Christians.
I just hope that the tide of cleavages is now ebbing and ceasing. We formally recognize Muslim and Chinese occasions in this country, and so it would be fitting for all Filipinos including Chinese and Muslims to celebrate Christmas as well. By Chinese I refer to those Chinese who are Buddhist, Daoist, atheist, or non-Christian.
The occasions for Christmas parties are now going on, from one organization to another, and so it is best for us all to participate in these events. And, comes the 24th-25th of the month, celebrate Christmas at home as a ritual occasion to solidify family bonds. Then, comes the New Year’s Eve, celebrate with a Big Bang accompanying a party or gathering.
Peace be with you! Advanced Happy Holidays!
[Philippines, 08 December 2010]