The Holiday Season—Will It Be All You Want It to Be?
“Peter [the Great] ordered special New Year’s services held in all the churches on January 1. Further, he instructed that festive evergreen branches be used to decorate the doorposts in interiors of houses, and he commanded that all citizens of Moscow should ‘display their happiness by loudly congratulating’ one another on the New Year.”—Peter the Great—His Life and World.
WHAT are you looking forward to during what many call the holiday season? People around the globe say that this season centers on Christmas, the traditional day of Christ’s birth, but it also includes the New Year’s celebration. So it is an extended holiday period. Both parents and children may be on vacation during this time, so it would seem to be an ideal occasion for families to spend time together. Others, though, refer to this season as “the Christmas season,” since they wish to honor Christ at this time of year. Perhaps you too feel that this is the most important aspect of the season.
Whether it be to honor Christ, enjoy one’s family, or both, millions of husbands, wives, and children worldwide await this time with keen anticipation. What about this year? Will it turn out to be that special time for the family, and is it special for God? If there is a family gathering, will it be all you want it to be, or will you be disappointed?
Many who look forward to the religious aspect notice that both Christmas and New Year’s are often celebrated with anything but the spirit of Christ. Rather, the holiday season becomes merely a time for receiving gifts, an excuse for a party that may include conduct that dishonors Christ, or primarily a reason for a family reunion. Many times, such a gathering is marred by one or more members overindulging in food and alcohol, sparking arguments that all too often provoke domestic violence. You may have noted that, or it may even have been your experience.
If so, it may seem to you that very little has changed since the time of the Russian Czar Peter the Great, described at the outset. Disturbed by the current trend, many wish that the holiday season could be a time for deep religious reflection and wholesome family association. Some even campaign for a change, employing such slogans as, Jesus is the reason for the season. But can a change be effected? And would this truly bring honor to Christ? Are there reasons for taking a different view of the holiday season?
To find satisfying answers, let us view the situation through the eyes of people of one nation who should have special reason to appreciate this time of year.