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The Meaning of Christmas

The Meaning of Christmas

* Find my original Facebook post here 
** Photo taken from the interweb 

So it is Christmas time, the ultimate celebration of consumer generosity in memory of Jesus Christ’s miraculous birth celebrated on December 25th 0000 (Jesus was a capricorn). (Some celebrate Jesus’s birth on January 7th as they count days via the Julian calendar, but that would still make him a Capricorn. At least, on this point, astrologers may agree.) <- joke btw

As with all traditions, contrary to the suggestion of what tradition means, Christmas has evolved and changed a lot across centuries. At the very core, it was a simple story which in due time, harbored very complex developments. There was a pregnant woman Mary and her spouse Joseph, modest people navigating the streets of Bethlehem (Gospel of Luke, Gospel of Matthew) looking for shelter so that Mary may give birth to Jesus as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. Jesus Christ was thus born, lord and savior, a voice for sin absolution and compassion. We don’t know much about him as a child or teenager, but I like to imagine that he may have given his mom a hard time when he came home tracking muddy water on the floor of their house from all the water walking: “Jesus Christ! How many times must I remind you to take off your sandals. Jeeeeze.”

To me, the reason why we don’t have many details about Jesus Christ the human is because the aims of Jesus Christ as a concept were ultimately spiritual, not physical. This is why all stories of religion are so vague and really not detailed… ‘Faith’ was never meant to WRITE events via history, it was meant to spiritualize via consciousness. Only stories and their physical events write history, but religion in its spiritual identity could never write history, it’s physically impossible just like “happiness” or “gladness” cannot write history. They are states of mind, not events… and faith was supposed to only be a state of mind, not a State. The biggest oxymorons of today’s language to me are phrases like “Religious right”, “Holy war”, “Islamic history”, “Islamic state”, “Christian science”, “Christian choir”, “Jewish temple” or “Hip Hop culture” (hmm). Once you physicalize spirituality, you strip it from all spirituality, rendering it just another human system like Capitalism or Socialism, systems built on events and ideas, not states of mind. And that is what religion has become: a human system. The fact that there are physical buildings, books, jewelry, pictures, people and monetary traditions associated with religion makes it by default an antithesis to spirituality… for the door to spirituality cannot be through a temple, it is through the mind.

And so spirituality got diluted. Over the centuries, people started attaching their religions more and more to the material, to specific details that eventually became popular tradition. Those include things like religious marriage, Christian baptism, Communion, Adha sheep slaughters, Jewish Shabbath, Jesus’s crèche, Christmas tree, and my favorite: a fat old guy with high cholesterol in a red suit who rewards good kids for being good while he repetitively calls out hoes.

I guess you may understand that I personally am not a fan of most popular traditions because they classically entrench us in our differences. Traditions are typically specific to a group of people and that tends to be a differentiating custom and divisive from others. Personally, the only traditions I appreciate are the ones that unite us all regardless of faith and social standing; there are two that come to mind: the official consolation (عزاء) held by the family after a loved one dies (death morbidly humbles and unites everybody even if for a couple of days) and, to a lesser extent, modern-day Christmas.

Yes it’s true, all faiths are welcome to engage in the commercial Christmas spirit thanks to consumerism and capitalism. Capitalism will take your money no matter what your religion is and so everybody is welcome to shop. But to put it more spiritually, I love Christmas because it is the strongest optimistic social event of the year. I love Christmas for its real spiritual message…. which originally was about “insignificant people” achieving big things: A modest shepherd and his pregnant wife with no place to stay who end up giving the world a savior.

Movies are filled with superheroes today doing superhuman things, power is equated with money and dominance. But Christmas, probably the most powerful story of all human stories, is not a story of super humans, nor of dominance, it is a story of super modest humans who tapped into the superpower of God. To me, it is a reminder that humanity is fallible except with the help of God. And God to me is love.

If you re-read the story of nativity, there is no money, no power, no competition, no ego, no struggle, just human modesty and the superpower of love. The story shows us, without details and for a reason, that when joined together, human love becomes superpower. And to me that is what the concept of Christ was trying to tell us. When you join yourself to ‘God’, you tap into the only superpower: a superpower that is not human, a superpower that religion calls God, that Christians today call Christ, and that translates into love.

Christ thus is love. But so is the modest human being, for Christ was originally but a modest human being.

So when I wish you merry Christmas, it is in spiritual remembrance of our modesty and our potential superpower. A superpower that doesn’t need an institution to be validated, but that only needs our modest consciousness.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones dear friends, may love unwaveringly find its way through our hearts and become our state of mind today and always.

Written by Sara El-Yafi

13 Comments

  1. Sarah Bazzi Merhi · December 25, 2012

    Beautifully written!! Merry Christmas

  2. Zaid El-Abed · December 25, 2012

    🙂 Merry Christmas

  3. Joe Khoury · December 25, 2012

    Sarah, your writing is awesome 🙂 merry christmas to you and all the best for 2013

  4. Peter Spierig · December 25, 2012

    Sara you are amazing, and this post just proves my point!!!

  5. Molly Stacey · December 25, 2012

    Simply beautiful. Thank you and Merry Christmas x

  6. Tracy Aboujaoude Rizk · December 25, 2012

    Always amazing! Merry superlove to you and your loved ones!!! Xoxo

  7. Elie Francis · December 25, 2012

    Your “Eulogy” of Grandma El-Yafi and her simple but powerful message of Love is exactly the message of Christmas. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones -:)

  8. Ralph Kaldawy · December 25, 2012

    Thanks Sara El-Yafi, I always enjoy reading your posts, very thoughtful. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  9. Yara Abi Farhat Samaha · December 25, 2012

    Jesus is born… Halleluia. Merry christmas to you and ur family

  10. Sumer Daou · December 25, 2012

    The last known attempt to take religion out of materialism (habits, traditions, prayers, temples, mosques, churches…) was that of the Unitarians (mistakenly called the Druze) and it failed, a millennium ago; and they failed it even more afterwards.
    As for the Superpower “God”, it is true you can reach it by consciousness. It was reached by the first known civilization, the Sumerian (before Moses, Jesus, and Mohamed), and a simple proof to that is the word “Allah”, it’s phonetics can be traced back to Mesopotamia, the same word did not change before, through and after all existing religions. At least they all agree on HIS name; till now. And this Superpower may be Nature united in balance.
    As for Christmas, Happy Merry Christmas to all. Will not ruin this day by going through its history.

    • Sara El-Yafi · December 26, 2012

      Sumer: Great comment. Not ruining the day at all by going through history! Quite the contrary, very enlightening. I guess the zen religions tend to focus a lot more on the spiritual and much less on the material. The Unitarians were very inspired by Far Eastern philosophies thus instigating their original non-material aspect of it. However, as with everything, heady behavior misconstrues even the most noble ideas. As soon as the non-material aspect became a dogma, people started obsessing about being non-material to a religious extent. That in itself is a behavior that defies the desire of being free of the material burden for any type of obsession alone is a material burden in itself. So there goes the immaterial purpose. As soon as you “institutionalize” an idea, it loses its spirituality. That’s what I think. Thanks a lot for sharing this information.

  11. Amal Rahbani · December 25, 2012

    Thank you for sharing…Merry Xmas.

  12. Joumana El-Yafi · December 31, 2012

    My Sara may you get back the love and tolerance you spread around you a million times more,I always said and I repeat my darling” you make the world a better place”plus you give us your energy,time and beautiful writings to help making it a better place!Thank you and God bless you my darling and be with you always! I Love could heal the world!Maybe a lot of people don’t realize it,therefore don’t apply it or even believe in it,and for many it is probably not their fault because nobody showed them or gave them love,but if they try ,only try on their part to solve their problems,and alleviate their insecurities, and or differences with others by only being loving and understanding ,it will change their lives and the lives of those around them.love can only be answered by love,love cannot be answered by hatred and harm!Try it,you will see how it will improve your life and that of the people around you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the world ,may 2013 see the cease of all wars(Although maybe it is a Utopia,but by praying for it maybe we can attract it!) May 2013 and the many years after witness the alleviation of all sufferings,the condemnation of corruption and greed and the victory of understanding and tolerance over hatred and Fanaticism !May people of the world join forces in love and care !let us have faith,let us all spread it, together we can do it,we can all also contribute to make the world a better place! Love you and so proud of you my Sara!

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