Christmas—a word that recalls to mind many memories of dinners, parties, gifts. A word that reeks of cheesy Christmas songs, of even cheesier Christmas TV specials, of fruitcakes and hamon de bola, of greeting cards and parols. Christmas—a word soon to be phased out.
Every December season, the gaudy decorations come up—Santa in his bright red suit, the artificial pine tree nestled in designer-wrapped gifts, the flashy Christmas lights hanging from every nook and cranny of the house. Here is when the inner Scrooge is kept locked up in a cage and the Mother Teresa in everyone is brought out to give, give, and give. Ah, the wonders of the season.
But notice. There seems to be something lacking. Where is baby Jesus? Where is the Holy Family? Where are the Bibles and the prayers? Where’s the Christ in Christmas? When everyone in the world, regardless of belief, is celebrating a religious icon’s birthday, there might be a chance that it’s not his birthday they’re celebrating. Hidden away in an old and dusty storage box, it seems. And, maybe, in the not-so-distant future, nowhere to be found anymore.
Season of Joy
Even though it may not be that evident in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, X-mas is starting to replace Christmas. In Japan, Christmas is a commercial event celebrated mostly on Christmas Eve, and not one the day itself. Japanese families observe the holidays with some blending of foreign Christmas traditions and their own culture. Mostly Buddhist and Taoist in faith, they celebrate the season with Christmas’s pop icons—Santa Claus, his reindeer, the Christmas tree, Christmas lights. There is even an anecdote of a Japanese pastor being asked if it was Santa’s birthday. The fat man in the red suit is taking the limelight. The baby in the swaddling clothes takes second billing.
Even in western countries, where Christmas originated traditions are taking over the reasons for celebration. There are, of course, the typical nativity scenes and decorations of the Christ child, the glittering stars and Magi decorating a place together with the trees and the lights, but they are slowly being replaced as the focus of the holiday.
It’s a battle of obsolescence, reminiscent of the fight between diskettes and CDs. Like the boy bands of yore, there will come a time when Christmas will just be a distant memory of the past.
Deck the halls—with Anything You Want
Thirty, fifty, a hundred years from now, X-mas will eventually supplant Christmas a holiday where everyone can make their own version of the festivities.
The future X-mas celebration would feature limitless choices for personalization. There are the traditional X-mas trees and lights for perusal, but then again, why stop there? If you fancy a balmy X-mas, go for a palm tree instead of the usual artificial pine. And because X-mas might not be complete without a Santa Clause with a great big gift sack, find one of your own specifications. If you don’t share Santa’s fashion sense, change his red suit to another color, maybe pink or yellow. And who says Santa has to be a man? Already the X-mas merchants are brainstorming tactics to celebrate everyone’s favorite holiday in different ways.
In an age where gods are fast becoming outdated and replaced with self-empowered individuals, these holidays are metamorphosing. Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, Thanksgiving, and Yom Kippur—they are in the process of transformation from religion-centered holi-days to human-centered social gatherings.
By the time December rolls around once again, we’ll be as eager as ever to celebrate a holiday when we can relax and let the end of the year come at our own pace. Ultimately, the final month of the year will be a celebration of the passage of human life, our lives.
Bells are tolling for the eventual passing of the Christmas holiday as we know it. In this age of commercialism and capitalism, Christ is relegated to supporting-actor status. The real star is the season itself, a season where everyone can have a good time. Have a merry X-mas!