SOME 2,000 years after Jesus Christ’s birth, do you still know why Filipinos celebrate Advent, decorate their homes, sing Christmas carols, go to midnight Mass, eat noche buena, and, when the clock strikes 12 on Christmas eve, greet each other “Merry Christmas”?

Or amid the hype and fanfare, have you forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

In the Philippines, celebrating Christmas starts way ahead of other countries. Enter the so-called “Ber” months and Christmas lights, lanterns, and other Christmas decor start to sprout everywhere.

Then Christmas-themed advertisements start to fill the media and commercial establishments. One toothpaste commercial in the past even had the traditional Midnight Mass as a setting for girl-watching.

Could things get any worse for Christmas?

All of this makes for a commercialized Christmas! All of this should show that in our eagerness to be merry, we forget the Christ in “Merry Christmas!”

In the face of the ruckus known as Christmas, we should go back to the original spirit of the holidays. The simbang gabi is not for girl- or boy-watching: it is to prepare everyone for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas does not essentially mean “deck the halls with boughs and holly.” It is not the Christmas carols we sing, the Christmas lanterns and candles we lit, the noche buena we eat, or the gifts we give to one another. All of these are mere rituals that we should carry out in the spirit of the season. And the spirit of the season is the “Christ” in “Christ-mas.”

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Pasko sa Pilipinas

We prepare for Jesus’ birth, and we prepare for His second coming. That’s the reason for celebrating December 25, which is a holiday in the Roman Catholic calendar. And holiday means “holy day.”

Let’s restore the holy in “holiday.” Let’s restore the Christ in Christmas.

PRAYER: Lord, we thank you for giving us Your Son to save us from sin. Forgive us for those times when we miss the true meaning of Christmas. Always remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, and of the reason of Jesus’ birth. Amen.

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