Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world but many are not even aware the real reason for the celebration. Before the 19th century Christians celebrate Easter more than Christmas because the birth of Christ was written in only 2 gospels – Matthew and Luke but Easter was mentioned in all of the gospels including Mark and John. Now comes 19th century when people began to celebrate more the Christmas season than Easter.
For some it is more of a cultural celebration and a time to bond with family and friends and as a song goes “to be kind to one and all” although it seems to be a pressure for some people to be giving gifts on Christmas. Nevertheless, the joy of giving is there no matter how small the present is during Christmas but that’s about it for some. They shop from one shopping place to another as early as September when the “ber” months start and still have last-minute shopping on Christmas Day but the true meaning of Christmas is not even known for some. In fact, even among Christians there are still who does not know the Christmas story. In an article in new observer.com dated December 22, 2017, only 76% believe among American Christians believe that the Christmas story is true, down from 81% who said they believe three years before.
In 2019, there were some predictions that the United States of America might go into recession unless consumer spending will increase in December. There was a downturn in investments in the US but consumer spending which is a big influencing factor, in fact 3x more than any economic factor, might prevent this recession. And consumer spending is expected to exponentially grow in December during Christmas season if people will not be held back by a pessimistic view that because of lack of investment recession might be looming around. So if people spend Christmas time this will will likely result to a GDP growth since consumer spending, for instance in the United States makes up most of GDP. In fact it reaches $13.3 trillion of the GDP from 1st Quarter to 2nd Quarter of 2019 compared to business investments, government spending, exports and imports which just averages $2.5 trillion to $3.5 trillion.
In view of this, businesses are promoting Christmas because this also means more business for them. But do they really believe in the Christmas story in the Bible? In a recent survey of Pew Research dated December 18, 2019, 90% of Americans said they plan to celebrate Christmas, but only about half plan to go to church. Some of their greetings are Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas although 32% still prefer the latter, 52% says “it does not matter,” and the rest prefer “Happy Holidays.”
In a report by the World Economic Forum dated December 20, 2019, it says one-fifth of people go into debt to pay for Christmas gifts and festivities, and for 2019 Americans will spend an average $942 on Christmas gifts – $57 more than last year. When it comes to Christmas, Americans are the world’s biggest spenders. In fact, they spend an average of 15 hours in shopping, 3.5 hours in queuing to pay and 15 hours attending Christmas parties. But look at their churches, it is almost empty and when we went in West Coast last year, most of those who attended church are older generations – millennials are rarely seen. This is because according to the survey, while 90% of Americans plan to celebrate Christmas, 30% of the population said they are not Christians.
We are happy that the world economy spur up during Christmas season but it is sad to note that instead of more people recognizing Christ as the Celebrant, the numbers are deteriorating. That is why in European churches where Christmas services used to be held are now becoming museums. Imagine yourself going to a party where the celebrant just sit on the side without anybody minding him because everybody too busy to celebrate. We will not do that with a friend or a loved one, but we are unknowingly doing that to Jesus. Do you think it’s time to bring back Christ in our celebration?
We can spur the economy by our spending but we could not have celebrated this season without that birth of a baby centuries ago in a manger. He alone is the reason for our gifts, for the money we spend, for our parties – so why don’t we give him the time and attention he deserves especially this Christmas?
(Wilma Miranda is a Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs, Adviser of the Media Affairs Committee of FINEX, Treasurer of Negros Outsourcing Services, Inc. and member of the Board of Directors of KPS Outsourcing, Inc. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)