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Religion Column

January 4, 2014

Christmas didn't end on December 26

(Continued)

I said that we water it daily, have never had a problem with it (we don’t place it near the fireplace or furnace), and don’t sneeze any more than normal. In the end, we more or less agreed to disagree.

Maybe he’s right, in a way. Sadly, for many, what passes for “Christmas” ends when the gifts are opened, the last piece of pie is eaten and the relatives and friends, thankfully, go home. But not even in the “commercial Christmas” world is that entirely true. 

Christmas sales are continuing right into the new year. The Hallmark channel is continuing its Christmas movie marathon, and now that some of my holiday craziness is over, I can even enjoy watching them with my wife. And many homes and other places still have decorations and lights up and lit. 

Even President Obama, “after” Christmas this past week, in discussing his concern that federal supplemental unemployment benefits were lapsing, referenced “Christmas” as a bad time of the year to do this.

It’s also true that with many families having members spread out all over, there are Christmas gatherings still occurring right through the new year and beyond.

And for Christians, it’s the Epiphany of Our Lord on Jan. 6, when the Wise Men arrived bearing richly symbolic gifts (another carol, “We Three Kings,” tells that part of the story; see Matthew 2) when the gift-giving and receiving ought really to begin!

The early Christians didn’t celebrate Christ’s birth for the first three centuries of the church’s life. It was the resurrection following the crucifixion that was crucial and trumped everything else in history. 

Only then in retrospect did Jesus’ birth begin to gain in observance. And since no one knew for sure when the birth had occurred, the Dec. 25 date was chosen for theological reasons. 

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