So what does Christmas mean in “Western Culture” to a non practicing Christian? or perhaps a Buddhist or Atheist? Hmmm… maybe I should rephrase that: What does Christmas mean to me; a guy raised in a Christian household but his suffering and wisdom understood with more clarity and insight through eastern philosophy.  A person who is more spiritual than religious? I meditate daily, watch my Karma and really have no internal or external connection to western based religious dogma. I am not a proponent of organized faith but Buddhism does speak to me…

From an American perspective, what is this thing we call Christmas? It is a beast bigger than all of us and the religion that once defined it. We see advertising for it in October.  Some want the Christ back in Christmas! I guess I don’t blame them… Though I have seen a lot of hypocrisy lately with this notion. Something about Syrian refugees; the religious and political right and the fact Baby Jesus and Mother Mary were middle eastern refugees taken in from the cold on a clear night with the North Star sparkling above – or some sort of contradiction like that… It seems Christmas is more commercial than Christian or Catholic. Most of the big retail corporations only want your money in their coffers playing on our emotions and credit cards with heartwarming commercials and subliminal advertising… In the aftermath of Christmas you have reports of holiday heart and reports about whether Christmas was successful from a financial bottom line and not spiritual bottom line. You have got Santa competing against Jesus and Target competing against Walmart. It’s like Holiday Thunderdome out there in the streets! It is a stressful time of year and I think a lot of us caught in the cross fire are thankful when it is all over.

…still, you know what? I love Christmas! uh.. from the commercial side that is.. well, let me rephrase that: I think I am into Christmas for 50% pretty lights and presents and 50% for the holiday idea that it is good to give… .001% for it actually being Jesus’ birthday. My birthday is the day after and it is actually common historical knowledge that Emperor Constantine changed Jesus’ birthday to December 25th at the 300 AD Council of Nicaea – Historically he may be an autumn baby but who knows. What I do know is my birthday is the 26th and it is probably the worst time in the world to have a birthday. I am still damaged from my childhood. There is a lawsuit pending…. But I digress…..

So what do I love about Christmas? I do love the twinkling little lights, the decorations and yes, the food! I love how everyone is in a good mood and people give like no other season. The energy is alive and flowing during Christmas and there is something special about that moment when the dawn illuminates freshly fallen snow and the unmistakable glisten of excitement we see in the eyes of our children. For a moment it seems like everything is perfect in the world. I even like Christmas songs.. even the religious ones like “Silent Night”

Do I thank Jesus for that good Christmas feeling or Amazon.com?

Yes, my family celebrates Christmas. We strings lights, hang holly and buy our friends and family gifts. Still, Christmas for me is not about religious dogma. It is about winter solstice, light, energy and love. More pagan in nature I suppose… Winter is part of the celebration of the Mandala of life. In autumn we see the trees turn as fall takes the hand of summer. Then it is winter that casts its cold gaze over our world. Yet, there is faith that spring will come yet again. Yes, for me, Christmas and New Years is a time to celebrate our lives, be reverent,  to give and center ourselves in the energy of illumination, love and wisdom. A celebration of the past, present and yes… the future!

My Birthday is the day after so do not get mad if I say Happy Holidays to you all!

Ah, hell with it…. Merry Christmas!

image credit: playbuzz.com

John C. Bader is a photographer, wellness advocate and consultant specializing in spiritual self-evolution, meditation, and bio-energy healing. In his writing, he bridges science with spirituality and provides steps to encourage more mindfulness in daily life. His new book, The Responsive Universe – Illumination of the Nine Mandalas is a step by step process on how to begin your very own Hero’s Journey.

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