By Editor Morten B. Reitoft
One-third of the world's population is Christians, and tomorrow they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. In Christianity, the birth of Jesus addresses a paradigm shift changing the role of the Christian God from being the punishing God to the forgiven God. Before Jesus was born, there was no distinction between the Jewish and the Christian God. Therefore Christians and Jewish people share the same ethics, the same belief in one God, and many holidays that don't relate to Jesus and the words of the new testament. Muslims also consider Jesus a leading prophet and believe that Jesus was born by Virgin Mary and all the miracles described in the New Testament.
Tomorrow is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th because of the Gregorian Calendar meaning that millions of people have an entirely ordinary day tomorrow - despite being Christians and looking forward to celebrating. Millions of Muslims living in Christian countries have learned to appreciate this extraordinary holiday, and since Jesus is also part of the Quran, it's just one of those perks you like, right?
The date is, as with so many other things, widely discussed. The reference to the three wise men describing the astronomical phenomenons suggests Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus on a different day. And in Nordic Mythology, the winter solstice was an important date in ancient belief. Some even suggest that December 24th/25th was picked to make it easier for the Vikings to accept Christmas and Christianity!
Christmas is the most or second most important celebration for Christians. What was supposed to be time for family, worship, and peace today, unfortunately, has turned into yet another commercial opportunity with endless spendings on gifts, food, and all the things that makes Christmas, Christmas!
At INKISH, we don't spend time on religious celebrations since we genuinely celebrate each and every person's right to express themselves. Since we, however, come from a Christian culture, we are influenced by it as much as every other person, family, and business in countries dominated by Christianity.
Christmas is celebrated very differently from country to country, but let me share how it's done in Denmark - and maybe others, who read this, will share how they celebrate?
Typically Christmas is celebrated with grandparents, parents, kids, grandkids, and grandparents with more kids often choose to take turns - so this year, my parents-in-law celebrate Christmas with us in our house in Karlslunde. At the beginning of December (for us at least), we have started decorating the home with light, ALF's, various Christmas glass balls, the mistletoe, and often we bake cookies and do marzipan and prepare for Christmas evening. On December 1st, the kids enjoy opening a physical calendar with a henge every day, hiding a secret from the broadcasted Christmas calendar TV program. The TV stations have prepared Christmas stories in 24 chapters starting December 1st.
When the 24th occurs, we meet around 17:30 (5.30 PM), where we typically start with a glass of wine waiting for the dinner getting ready. Our dinner consists of pork belly, duck, white potato, sugar potato, red cabbage - served with a nice sauce. We eat for hours and end the dinner with what we call a Ris-ala-mande - expressed in French, but it's merely rice pudding :-) with a cherry sauce. The rice pudding is served with slices of almonds, but one is whole - and the one who gets it will get a small gift :-)
After dinner, we walk hand-in-hand around the Christmas tree singing old hymns, and the kids are‚ of course, inpatient since the gifts are about to be unpacked!
My father-in-law dresses like an old, kind of miserable, and a bit drunk Santa in our family. He arrives at our house a bit noisy and often very thirsty, ready to deliver gifts to everybody! :-)
Everybody gets their gifts, and when Santa has left, it's time to unpack.
Typically the evening ends with coffee, cookies, and maybe a drink or two - and filled with joy, fun, music, and full of too much food, the evening ends around midnight. The entire Christmas event ends at the 24th, so not like many other places, the 25th is typically time to meet with more people, having even more food - and a restful time, with snaps and beers introduce the second and often also the third food-orgy - not healthy, but damn, so nice :-)
All because Jesus was born more than 2000 years ago. For me, Christmas is an end-of-year/family experience and not so much about celebrating Christianity - but once a friend said to me, we are formed - in good and bad - by more than 1000 years of history. Our moral compass and values are defined by how generations before us have formed what we today take for granted.
I prefer to think of us as free and independent personalities. Still, the culture has defined us more than we can imagine, and with air travel, cheap flight tickets, and cultures today being mixed via so many channels, no wonder that we sometimes get confused, disrupted, and maybe also disillusioned? Most people in the world believe in the good, and we, fortunately, have similar values even though, until just a few decades ago weren't able to learn from each other, meet each other, take the best of each other's cultures.
Christmas is an excellent time to consider. To think. To look into yourself and open your mind to all the things you allow yourself to be defined by in tomorrow's world. I love it - what about you?