What is Christmas?
It depends on your worldview, the culture you are in and the commercial world around you.
As a typical Singaporean, when you hear the word "Christmas", what comes to your mind? Snow? Reindeer? Christmas trees? Santa Claus? Presents?
All of the above?
In Singapore, go to any shopping centre, hotel or town centre and you see decorations of all sorts, banners of all kinds, and advertisements of all colours. Go to Orchard Road and frenzied shoppers are jostling with each other to get that present that they didn't have enough time to look for earlier, simply forgot to buy, or had to purchase because of some last-minute invitation to a "gift-exchange" party.
Can I take a second here to state how much I abhor mandatory "gift-exchange" parties? The premise of a mandatory exchange of gifts undermines the purpose of a gift - which is given voluntary and done out of love.
To get over the feeling of being forced to get a gift, which incidentally has no target gender or purpose (because what if that feminine face mask pack gets "given" to a man?), guests to such parties buy useless, generic, boring items which many shops are happily advertising for sale.
Nobody goes home with an item they can really use or that they really need or that they really like. The solution? Stop this ridiculous practice!
I think it is safe to say that Christmas is the most commercialised holiday in Singapore, followed closely by Valentine's Day (a future blog post in the making, it seems).
But hang on, what about the Christian community?
Though many Christians take Christmas as a celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, a number of biblical scholars have placed His birth day a few months before December. There was also no such celebration in the early church.
Nevertheless, it is always good to gather in His name, share some food and stories, and sing carols. And that is exactly what I'm going to be doing this Christmas!