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Jordan Medeiros, USA
"Christmas has lost its religious roots"
 real 28k

Daniel Ben-Tal, Israel
"Just another reason to have a party"
 real 28k

Daniel Jeffrey, USA
"There is a paranoia about celebrating Christmas"
 real 28k

Charles Mercer, South Africa
"People will discover the roots of Christmas"
 real 28k

Krish Raval, UK
"Retailers exploit Christmas"
 real 28k

Beth Tait, USA
"Christmas is a time to celebrate what's really important to you"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 09:02 GMT
Christmas: has it lost its meaning?

Baubles, tinsel, snowmen and the sound of piped carols, wherever you are in the world, there is no getting away from Christmas.

But why is it such a universal festival? And what does it mean to you?

We took your calls and emails LIVE in the studio.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

Your comments since the programme

In an increasingly secular society, such as the UK, Christmas has a diminishing meaning. Chain stores now open on Christmas day and several banks offer services. I do not attend church myself and therefore I simply enjoy a brief respite from work, nothing more nor less. It is now almost endemic in our society that nothing can ever close, but I am a supporter of the weekend and holidays - Christmas is usually nice even for us non-believers!
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, England

Christmas is the saddest time of the year. It is cold, and everyone's trying to get some heat to their hearts, but very few can actually do it. For many, Christmas is a time to be spent with friends and relatives, to put as much food and wine as possible within their already full-filled stomachs. But for most it is only a time of recapitulation, of remembrance of how much things we wanted to do and we couldn't, of how much love we wanted to give and receive and we gave it not and received it not. For me, Christmas is a time of silence and loneliness, of tears that get frozen in their way out, of painful screams that never can go out because they would sound too much horrible and perturbing to the society that commands one to smile always, no matter how much one is suffering, no matter how much cold one is, no matter how much pain is within one's heart. Christmas is also a time of expectation, of hope about redemption, understanding and love that will never be; a time of despair. While for many Christmas is a time to ran into the stores to buy some happiness and to wait for presents that would hopefully give them a bit of that happiness they need, for me Christmas is the saddest and more painful time of the year.
Anton Gustavsen, Danenmark

Christmas to me is a time for being grateful for what you have achieved spiritually and intellectually throughout the year. Displaying acts of love, kindness and joy come naturally when you feel fulfilled and satisfied with yourself. Knowing that you could not have achieved so much without some spiritual strength from an eternal friend helps you to see the world through different eyes. We must celebrate our friends' birthday. Merry Christmas and all the best for the year 2000 !
Tabatha, South Africa

I feel that some of the messages people have left on this board are missing the true point entirely. It seems that this message board has become a place on which the various religious traditions are compared and unashamedly pronounced as being the "best" of the lot. Yes, I do respect other people's religious beliefs, and if you feel no reason to celebrate this Christian tradition, then you have the right to behave in the way that you have chosen. But stop portraying your beliefs as the only true religious beliefs because that is not the point of this discussion. And the only reason Christmas seems to be such a universal festival is because of the unnecessary emphasis that corporations of the western world place on material gifts instead of leaving things alone for once. And how, by focusing on the religious aspects of Christmas, will Christians be excluding non-Christians from festivities, Mr Cooper (above)? Jews, Muslims and Hindus all celebrate their holy days by focusing on their religious beliefs, but you don't get other religions complaining about their practices. Each person in the world has a choice whether or not to celebrate a religious holiday, even if it does not apply to them. If you choose not to, that's fine, but don't reproach those who choose to respect their traditions for the right reasons. It is this kind of superior attitude that leads to world conflict.
Agnieszka, Australia

Christmas is a holiday. It is the birth of Jesus Christ. Why would you celebrate this holiday if you're not a Christian?. I believe that what most of us are people are doing are spending lots and lots of money on gifts instead of considering what Christmas means. Christmas is a day of joy and it is a day of celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ. There are some people, however, who do not know what Christmas is all about but just celebrating it. Yes, gifts are wonderful to give out to others during the holidays but why spending lots and lots of money when we should be giving a gift to Christ? The gift is to make him happy by asking him to forgive us our sins. He'll be so happy to do that if we ask him from all of our heart. Peace and joy are what the holiday season is about and giving God our thanks.
Nivin Hanna, USA

I don't see why some Christians get upset by the "commercialization" of Christmas. Nobody's twisting their arm to go out and buy. As for non-Christians who trash the holiday - lighten up. If you come up with a better way of having fun, I'll gladly join in. And yes, it's an old pagan celebration. So what? Where does it say that you can't enjoy yourself. I grew up in a very Catholic country and it was only when I came to the US as an adult that it dawned on me that we were supposedly celebrating the birth of Jesus. Good for him. To me, Christmas is all about having fun, getting together and enjoying good food. If somebody has a problem with this - Christian, Muslim, Jew or atheist (like myself) - that's their problem. Maybe they don't know how to have fun? Maybe they're angry about something? Hey - let your hair down and prance around the tree. It does a lot of good!
Ewa R. Huygens, USA

Christmas is great! Why are you all so down on it? We all know that it was tacked on to the European tradition of celebrating the winter solstice, and anyone who looks at the "Christian message" can clearly see the pagan roots of its symbolism, so why are you all getting so uptight? Perhaps people who deride Christmas should look at all the things that are right about it rather than concentrating on the stuff they are prejudiced against: people coming together to laugh and eat and drink and exchange presents and tell stories and play games and to look forward to the future must be a universal thing. As for the peripherals of Christmas, you don't have to "shop till you drop" - personally, I like giving gifts, whether bought or home-made, so it's all part of the fun. I think everyone should feel free to do what they want with this fabulous winter celebration, because regardless of its pagan or Christian connotations, the central message is the same: have fun, and love one another. Merry Christmas to you all!
Emma, England

Christmas, is a paganistic birthday celebration of Greek god Mithra. It is nothing to do with Jesus, as according to facts and figures, he was born in summer. Also, as he was supposedly god, how God can be born? It is a lie just like Santa.
M Qazi, UK

Christmas was invented by the Christians to assist the wiping out of ancient pagan traditions and the brain washing of native Britons. This time of year is called Yule in those traditions and is celebrated still by a growing number of people. I believe in the existence of Jesus Christ but not as the Son of God and not as our salvation. You have only to compare the dates of ancient traditions and those of Christian celebrations. As far as I can see, as long as you are a good person of sound nature and mind, who helps others wherever possible and does not try to force your religion upon others, it doesn't matter which path you take. The spirit of Yule is older than Christianity, its a shame that so many have kneeled before a false image.
Adrian Brett, UK

Christmas is a pagan celebration. Even today, those that called themselves Christian, are pagan believers. They are confused bunch. They don't even know their god. Christmas is a waist of time. Also it is a good time to take off is the middle of winter.
John Bowa, USA

All cultures, societies, religions appear to relish a special day or several days of the year, where they can take time off from the trials of work and mundane daily life and spend with loved ones. Christmas serves that function in the West, whether it is actually the birthday of Christ or not, I suppose it does not matter.
Ahmed Khan, USA

Christmas is great. I don't get too caught up in shopping but it's fun to see the stores and houses all decorated. Most people are happy; happy to give, happy to receive, happily broke, or just happy the whole holiday is over with. We need something to lighten up our lives. For whatever reason, Christmas; BE HAPPY!
Lexi, Alaska, USA
Christmas is a personal celebration. It should be meaningful time to reflect upon your relationship with God. In a multi racial country, Christmas is visiting friends to celebrate. I do not subscribe to this practice, it just makes any religion so commercial like the national day. I would definitely spend the day with my family and giving God the day. 25th December may not be the actual day of Christ's birth but to me, we still need a date to remember the day when Christ gave up all his heavenly possessions to be just like you and me and to reconcile us with our Creator. This is Christmas to me.
Peter, Malaysia

I am a Christian who does not understand the commercialism of Christmas to the point that non-Christians celebrate freely, without ever understanding what they are celebrating. I do not participate Kawanza or Hannuka because I am not a member or believer of those groups. I believe that the mass celebration of Christmas is the result of many years of retailers brainwashing people to think that they must celebrate the day and spend lots of money on gifts. It is upsetting to me and other Christians that the sanctity and reverence has been stolen from the celebration of the birth our Lord and Saviour. And all to line the businessman's pockets with gold. This is pure, unmitigated sinfulness.
Cheryl Maloney, Oregon, USA

I have been noticing that Christmas is losing its religious significance. Many retailers are marketing it for commercial purposes. Everybody is forced in a way to buy gifts for family and friends.

Christmas is time to celebrate the day and think about your future planning
Sanjay, India
It's a time of personal reflection for me. A time to ponder our role on earth and to rejoice in the hope that Jesus Christ brought to those who believe in Him. Everybody who has a religious belief has moments when they are more in tune with their beliefs. I know that Ramadan in Muslim countries is special for the people who follow Islam; and the atheists, I believe, have moments when the world is not just empty to them, when they seek to make sense of it all. At such moments when each person thinks of something far greater than him/herself that make Christmas special for a Christian. It is not the date or the manner in which it is celebrated. It is the spirit with which it is celebrated. Peace to you.
Felix , USA

I hate commercialism, I cannot abide alcohol (the smell, let alone the taste of the stuff), I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God and I don't understand what purpose is served by telling lies to one's children (Santa Claus). Whatever day Jesus (whom I do respect as a Prophet) was born on, it almost certainly was not 25 December, which is the date of the ancient European pagan sun-god festival, co-opted by the Church in an attempt to make their religion more palatable to the natives. So what's to celebrate? For me, nothing. All these Muslims, Jews and others who join in the Christmas celebrations are deluded. Yes, there may be occasions when human beings can come together in a spirit of common humanity, but I don't think Christmas is one of them and it should not be forced down the necks of those of us who choose not to believe in it or celebrate it. PS. Santa is an anagram of SATAN...go figure...
World Weary Muslim Mom, Canada

I love the conflicting theories and stories on who actually owns (or started) Christmas. Pagans can't agree, and Christians won't have any of it. But no one can deny that this festive day has been in the ownership of the church calendar for longer than is even worth mentioning. For Christians, it is a celebration of the birth of Christ. For non-Christians it is a time to drink to excess. The spirit of Christmas is this, it is a time for everyone to lean upon and enjoy the things that mean a lot to them. For some, it just happens to be shopping.
Tobias, Australia

Many of us (christian and non) don't appreciate the manifesation of Christmas. The problem I have with Christmas is simply that I get harassed by colleagues and strangers if when I say I do not celebrate it. This appears to be a sin and does not make the holiday inclusive.
Mary, USA

Your comments during the programme

Christmas as a religious festival does not exist for most people under 25
David Steenson, N Ireland
Christmas as a religious festival does not exist for most people under 25, it's more of a family celebration, and that's the way it should be. Christian celebrations are irrelevant to the modern man/woman who has any sense!
David Steenson, N Ireland

As an atheist in the US, Christmas can be quite a hostile time. With religion penetrating every aspect of life in the US, people view you as being strange for not celebrating it. For a country with supposed freedom of religion, not to have a religion can bring you no end of trouble.
Phil Cowell, USA

Christmas is an opportunity for everyone to have a festival at a time of the year when we need a lift of our spirits. There's no reason I can see why this should be an exclusively Christian festival.
Clifford Longley, UK

Money does not come into it for me. I do give Christmas cards and presents but it is a spiritual celebration. Singing and praising the Lord is the real aspect of Christmas.
Dennis Davis, Spain

As a family we have been celebrating Christmas in a traditional sense. We haven't ever told the children about Santa Claus.
Daniel Stern, Belgium

If we were to empty Christmas of all religious meaning, it simply wouldn't last.
Clifford Longley, UK
The tone of much of the discussion I've heard seems to me a rather self satisfied 'you non-believers are welcome to join with us in the celebration of our saviour.' That would be fine, I suppose, if for example one lived in a country where the holidays of other religions were also public holidays and recognised by a broad group of people outside that group. My background is Christian and I was born in the US. And I agree that political correctness in the US is often excessive. But as I listen to this program I begin to find it rather better than this 'alternative'!
Rosemary Gunn Leiden, The Netherlands

I think it's great that so many people celebrate Christmas in one way or another, even though they may not be Christians. Christmas is the day Christ was born and the most important day in the history of humanity and should be celebrated joyously. Until everyone is evangalised, it's certainly a start that so many of such disparate backgrounds can by joyful on this day, just as it should be.
Kamal Sidhu, Singapore

Why do we all blame outside influences? lets celebrate Christmas as we want to as individuals and enjoy Christmas as we choose. Don't be "controlled" by outside influences such as retailers.
Peter, Australia

My problem with Christmas is the loss of Christian values. People without families are left on their own and most marriages go on the rocks when Christmas approaches. People borrow money and get into debt in order to buy gifts, it all becomes very stressful and the cracks begin to show.
Sam, Norway

The Christian celebration was superimposed on a so-called pagan mid-winter ceremony and the custom of bringing a tree into the house was part of what was some kind of 'nature worship'. I would like to this aspect made into a universal celebration of the global natural environment on which we all depend.
Peter Ball, UK

I celebrate Christmas for the children's sake
Homayoun Vahdani, Germany
I believe Christmas goes back to pre-christian times and was actually a feast marking the longest night of the year which was later taken over by the christian church. We Iranians celebrate the feast of longest night and I personally look at christmas as the western variant of the same tradition and celebrate it mainly for childrens sake.
Homayoun Vahdani, Germany

Ten years ago, Christmas decorations would not have been seen anywhere in the Muslim areas of Lebanon but today your listeners would find surprising the mixture of both Ramadan and Christmas lighting decorations along the main street of Hamra in the main Muslim street in Beirut. Your Jewish commentator in Israel said that Christmas is not so important in the Holy Land. But just north of Israel here in Lebanon, Christmas is not only alive and well, but even tolerated by the majority of Muslims.
Jack Dagilaitis, Lebanon

Christmas is an annual reminder of God's love to his people. Despite commercialisation, the majority of people have grasped the important message of Christmas that is love, compassion and forgiveness to others. On the surface of things, you can easily conclude that Christmas is about Santa, crackers and tree lights but how many can argue that at this important time of year, many forget their differences, smile a bit more to each other and become more generous to the poor and needy. Isn't what Christ our God has taught us to do! It's a celebration of his message to the world to love each other and that is what is important.
George Giannopoulos, UK

In multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore, we have no problem in celebrating this joyous occaison. However, I feel that the festival has been degraded by commercialism and the true spirit has been lost, especially in more developed countries such as Singapore. Instead of spending Christmas together at home, most of the time is spent shopping.
Tan Soon Hui, Singapore

Christmas has become a time for people to get together with people they love, regardless of faith. No matter where you are in the world you can share the spirit of Christmas.
Jordan Medeiros, USA

In many ways Christmas has never has been purely a celebration of the birth of Christ, which may not even been in December; Yuletide, the celebration of the winter solstice, has as much a place in the celebrations as the Christian religion, and may have been usurped by the religious side - after all, what connection does the mistletoe, the Christmas log and the Christmas fir tree have to do with the birth of Christ?
Bryan Hollamby, Kilkis, Northern Greece

Your comments before we went ON AIR

Christmas is only a party day to a lot of people
Lai Wen Shan, Singapore
Christmas, to many people, is a time to enjoy good food and exchange gifts. The true meaning of celebrating Christmas has been blinded by commercialism. Ignoring its religious significance and beauty, Christmas is only a party day to a lot of people.
Lai Wen Shan, Singapore

The time has come to separate the religious festival of Christmas from the trading season of "xmas." My family and I are churchgoers, but not inclined to extremism. But I do find it offensive to go into one particular local shop in mid September - the month when we usually take a summer holiday, and with a quarter of the year still to go - and find the Christmas decorations up. So why not move to the Northern European system, where Santa Claus is on 6th December, and is properly treated as an excuse for gifts and such, and Christmas is in its usual place, and is handled in a much more Christian way. At least the most important feast of the Christian year, Easter, is not quite so universally hijacked. Although there are those who have been tempted to launch a Christian fatwa against the manufacturers of Easter bunny cards.
Guy Chapman, UK

Although a heathen, non-believer and agnostic, I'm in favour of Christmas being celebrated all over the world, even by non-Christian populations. I consider it to be the first profane festival capable of rousing people's consciousness of peace and solidarity on a world level. And this, I think, is much more efficient than singing na´ve carols and telling indulging tales and other cock-and-bull stories.
Henri van der Laan France

Christmas, or Yule is an old English festival. It is a celebration of midwinter, which was hijacked by the Christian church. As such it is about friends and family and gatherings. So eat, drink and be merry!
Dave Richards, UK

I would describe myself as being religious, yet I'm not much of a Santa fan. Instead, I have tried to compensate for the appropriation (and desecration) of Christmas by advertisers, through impressing upon our children the true meaning of Christmas, which we do through the singing of traditional carols as a family, and regular re-telling of the Christmas story, as well as by our partaking in the traditional (if somewhat secularised) celebrations of our friends and neighbours.
Daniel Stern

Why is it so difficult to reconcile the traditional with the religious. Though Christmas is a religious festival above all else, I feel that dropping the traditional aspects of the tree and other things would somehow rob this festival of its soul. As a practicing Catholic, I think that Santa and Reindeer and everything else is fine, provided we remember that this is the day we celebrate Christ's birth above all else. Why are so many people interested in taking religion OUT of Christmas, when Christmas and Christianity are so closely intertwined?
Luke Richardson, Canada

Christmas will never lose it's true meaning as long as we are willing to discuss and acknowledge that God has touched our lives. That friends, family and neighbours are important in our lives. And that we are able and willing to share our love and blessings with those who have none.
Gary Patterson, USA

Christmas upholds family and community. Let us all hold on to that
Stephen, Australia
Whatever the origins of Christmas, it is still a rather special time, regardless of its obvious commercialism. Like anything in life, it's what you make it.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

Christmas is a time when I stop and try to hold onto the simple messages of Peace, hope and Love. In this complicated and hurry up world, somehow we have obscured this simple message. Christmas comes at the end of the year and each year presents, once more, its quiet message. Unfortunately the noise, bright lights and ringing cash registers make the message, difficult to see and hear. But it is there, if we take the time.
Pat van der Veer, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada

Christmas means an opportunity to forget about work for a while, after a busy and stressful year, and relax with my wife and children. It holds no religious significance for me as a non-practising Christian. But I value it as a time to sit back, reflect and try to put my life in perspective.
Bob, Malaysia

Christmas does contain a number of fine things that other times or events cannot match. New Year for example tends to be just a drunken stagger into another day. For me some of the things that Christmas brings are the gathering together of much missed family members; the fine tunes and voices of uplifting carols echoing in church naves; the excitement of opening presents; the warmth of an open fire greeting ones return from the winter cold; mince pies; conversation and the richness of non-TV pastimes.
Bob Gardiner, England

I enjoy Christmas as it is a time for me to thank God for my saviour, Jesus, to enjoy the precious time with both my own and my Christian family. It is also a time to remember our neighbours, both near or far and gives an opportunity to discuss my faith. Sadly in this day commercialism and materialism, has taken over many people's lives and this does not give you prolonged happiness.
Philip Edwards, UK

Christmas is not lost and it will never lose its meaning
Negassi, Ethiopia
Christmas is not lost and it will never lose its meaning. It is a great day as it is the birth of the saviour of the world. Lord Jesus is great, we need to remember his birthday by fasting and praying.
Negassi, Ethiopia

Being a Hindu, I might not be able to really get into religious nature of this holiday but, I think Christmas to me is time to celebrate and cherish all good that we have in our life and be thankful for it. However, it is a shame that Christmas has been so much commercialised that it has lost its true meaning. This has happened to a lot of Hindu festivals. Wish you a lot of love, happiness and success in the New Year and have a safe holiday.

Has Christmas lost its meaning? That just depends from where you view it. If you have a family to come together with then I suppose it hasn't but what about all those that don't have a family? Christmas for them can be a horrible time. There is so much pressure to conform to the so-called Christmas spirit that if you cannot or do not want to, you are immediately ostracised as being a spoil sport. I can speak from personal experience as my mother kicked me out of the family because I refused to take part in what I considered to be a stultifying and hypocritical happening. It does not bring people that close together witness the increased child abuse and family violence at Christmas.

The stress levels at Christmas have become nearly unbearable as Christmas nowadays has to be a perfect feast, no imperfections are tolerated. As for the crass commercialism as I do not celebrate it I do not suffer from it and if people want to give each other ever more expensive gifts that is their concern.
Iwan Turzanski, Netherlands

Whatever creed, colour, religion, nationality, size, weight, colour of hair etc..... Christmas should be a time to take stock and remember our fellow man with kindness and understanding. Merry Christmas!
Alex, Scotland

Is Christmas a religious matter or just a celebration to have some fun? If it is a religious matter, then - is it an instruction from God or his messenger Jesus to celebrate the way we do? If it is, then is it the correct date for the celebration? However, Jesus is coming back to this earth once again to complete his mission. But he is definitely going to ask "IS THAT WHAT I ASKED YOU TO DO?" You will get the answer in the 2000 years old Bible but not in today's Bible. And The Bible is a holy book from God as guidance for the mankind given to Jesus to preach. Whereas today's Bible is not the same Bible that was given to Jesus to preach. Do we really follow Jesus and his instructions? If not, who are we following and how can our celebration of Christmas fulfil the purpose of the mission of Jesus who was the messenger of God?
Dewan, Canada

The problem with Christmas is not so much the celebration, rather the greedy monster in all of us that drives us into mindless consumption.
Gabriel, USA
It should be a time to thank ones creator for all that one has, at the same time a time to commit oneself to serving humanity by sharing what extra one has. Otherwise, it's another excuse to have a good time and show off how much we can spend on gadgets when we dam well know so many people in the world are starving to death. Why not make Christmas a time to remember the weak, the infirm, the children, the poor and the old, and so on. For me, this is what Christmas is all about!!
Gabriel, USA

To me Christmas is the celebration of Christ. It is an opportunity for us to reminisce with regards to the life of our saviour. I celebrate Christmas but I do get involved in the whole spending lots of money scenario. I try very much to enjoy the day and spend more time thinking about the spiritual side and how important the birth of Christ was to me and to us all.
Taiwo Akinbusoye, United Kingdom

I think if people want to be exploited by shop owners into spending their often hard earned cash then let them, if people want to take this time to reflect on Jesus Christ then they should be allowed to as well, it's all about freedom of choice. God created each of us as individuals. As a born-again Christian I don't impose my beliefs on others if they accept it then Praise God. if not what's is the point of "spoiling" things for them. I still give presents etc and enjoy the season with friends and family. I don't need a day to remember Jesus Christ's birth like many so-called religions, I can (and do) celebrate Him everyday. God is good all the time - not just on Christmas day!!
Michelle, UK

For a great many Christmas has become "the festive season" rather than a religious celebration.
Bob Ezergailis, Canada
It is a time for friends and family gatherings, parties, and feasts, where ideologies and religious conflicts between believers of various sects, cults and systems, can be put aside. Many now avoid any mention of any religious themes, seeing that more as a kind of violence contrary to more emphasis on the human element, on friendships, mutual appreciation and recognition, and on non-denominational and non sectarian celebration.

Religious systems of all kinds are seen by increasingly many as being divisive, destructive, sometimes abusive, and far from furthering that more important spirit of a more universal harmony and mutuality, human enjoyments of life, that are a more pre-eminent and immediate concern, as opposed to religious squabbling, and attempts at ideological conversions which are more recognised nowadays as an undermining of the quality of life when that occurs. It is not simply a matter of Christianity and its history of forced conversions, but it is the fact that religion is becoming less popular on a global scale than it was some years ago.
Bob Ezergailis, Canada

Christmas to me, now that I'm all old and wise (read jaded), has become simply a great opportunity/excuse to spend time with family. Sometimes it's a fun time and sometimes it's not so fun. But, in our busy lives, it's pretty well the only true family time we have. Oh, and it's also one of the only times in our family that anything like 'family traditions' are revived and passed on to the next generation.
T Maguire, Canada

I live in a multi-racial country. It is a peaceful and beautiful country. Here we celebrate many religious festivals such as Chinese New Year, Aidilfitri , Deepavali and Christmas too. I have been celebrating Christmas for more than a decade now. I enjoy roasting the turkey, baking mincemeat pie and giving and receiving presents. I really enjoy it with my kids even though they have grown up now. The only thing is that Christmas now has become a big commercial thing but I don't think it has lost its tradition. The only thing is it's so commercialised that things pertaining to this festival have become increasingly expensive. That means we have to spend a huge chunk to celebrate it. Even Santa's give-aways are getting smaller in term of commercial value but the spirit of giving is still there. So just enjoy as I do but I'm not a Christian. Merry Christmas everyone.
Chua Thian Beng, West Malaysia

I am not a Christian nor do I celebrate Christmas. I find that avoiding the mad mad shopping season in the United States is a good strategy. I just saw a Great Classic movie, starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young, by the title of "Bishop". The film depicts the real meaning of Christmas, to take your time in life, knowing your destination as you get there. People are so stressed to spend their hard-earned money to please friend or a family member here. Christmas should be a time for celebrating being alive and well with your loved ones if you are fortunate enough to be well and to have loved ones around you. We should celebrate life and family, gifts and presents are nice, but unnecessary. being healthy. Gifts are secondary
Paul Dinksy, USA

Christmas means a lot to some whereas for others it is merely an outside decoration. So let's take the spiritual meaning hiding behind it and each one of us if we imitate Jesus Christ in our own way, that itself is the Christmas in our lives. So then we cannot say that Christmas has lost its meaning.
L N D Souza, U.A.E.

Well, I'm not going to knock back a chance to have some time with loved ones and good fare. Science has taken the meaning out of Christmas and all religious festivals. Maybe we should celebrate String Theory or Big Bang Day.
Tom, Australia

Christmas has become the time of Santa Claus, reindeer and snowmen. Sadly, Jesus has lost out.
Simon Cochrane, UK
'Christmas', as we know it, was a pagan festival imported into this country by Prince Albert during Victorian England. As such, it has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, although the Church saw fit to bolt this concept on afterwards to give it a mark of respectability.

Since then it has become nothing more than a huge commercial opportunity for retailers to bleed as much money as possible out of those who are dumb enough to go along with it.

Some of us can ignore the commercial hype, and celebrate Christmas as a religious and spiritual occasion where people and families come first. But it's getting harder. Christmas has become the time of Santa Claus, reindeer and snowmen. Sadly, Jesus has lost out.
Simon Cochrane, UK

Sounds to me like we are just going back to our roots, before Christian zealots decided to attach their religious dogma to the pagan festival of Yule, it was a time to celebrate the winter solstice and indulge in the excesses of a good harvest. When the ever-complaining Christian do-gooders in society decide that we have lost sight of the real message of this celebration they simply show their ignorance and the hypocrisy inherent in all organised religions. Hey, get out there and drink and eat and indulge yourself in any way you want, try not to hurt yourself or anyone else, but celebrate all life, not just one man┐s life.
Myles, USA

Christmas, for me, has become a pointless charade enacted on societies by retailers. I have just returned from working in Bosnia and I think that everyone sitting around the table, stuffing their faces, rolling in their opulence should stop for one minute and spare some consideration for the valuable things in life. People and our relationships with them. Tell all the people you love that you love them. Do not wait, tell them now. Never take each other for granted. Be part of a solution, and not part of the problem.
Simon Gardiner, UK

Christmas is an invention of the Catholic church, imposed on people in Europe during the dark ages to transform and give a new religious meaning to the celebrations of the Winter solstice. In the new centuries to come they will say Christmas was a religious occasion transformed during the last millennium into the biggest shopping spree of the year. But then, there will also be sceptics...
Peter Jung, Canada

No it has not. I am a Hindu, a non-Christian living in a predominantly Christian country. I celebrate Hindu festivals but I also like to honour the Christmas tradition. To me, Christmas time is indeed 'the time of giving'. A time to give love to those around you, through a card or through helping at the local foodbank. You don't have to go to Church to spread and share a little bit of what you have and God has given you.
Mrudula Krishnaswamy, New Zealand

Christmas- buying people you don't like things they don't want with money you haven't got in the name of something you don't believe in.
Colin Attenborough, UK

Well, of course it has lost its meaning, ever since the Christians 'acquired' the pagan festival and used it as their own.
Cameron, Scotland

I am nominally Christian by birth and upbringing. December 25th means nothing to me, I do celebrate New Years / the pagan Feast of Yule but this is just an excuse for having / going to a party. As for the theological aspects of Christmas, so what! It is now so commercial that I believe people don't care.
Andy Trigg, England

Christmas definitely lost its original meaning. It is evident in the United States: it is a national holiday people of all confessions enjoy; they decorate their homes identically and share the same idea of "Christmas spirit." Sometimes children are reminded: "Remember that for some people Christmas is about the birth of Jesus". African Americans made up a holiday of Kwanzaa because this tribal African festival takes (or took) place during the same period as Chanukah and Christmas. And in Russia Christmas is basically ignored-all attributes of Christmas are dedicated to New Year, including the pine tree under which the presents are hidden.
Andrej, Russia

Last time I checked, this country was predominantly Christian. But go shopping to participate in the tradition of exchanging presents, and the majority of retailers don't even try to remind you of that fact. It's totally commercialised, and I hate it.
Alex Banks, Wales

I don't think Christmas and it's meaning have changed for most people. True, there is a heavy commercial side to it, but that is just supply and demand. I mean, people not only have many more choices but also greater buying power. That's just the human nature to want the tangible to accompany the spiritual. If you look past the TV ads, I think you'll find most family people getting together much like the old days, praising God and celebrating life. As to why Christmas has become a big event where there are very few Christians, I think that's just a result of an ever-shrinking world, figuratively speaking. Earthlings are much closer to each other than they used to be thanks to technology, and I don't see anything wrong with people joining in other people's celebrations. Merry Christmas & Happy New Century!!!
Dawit, USA/Ethiopia

No... I feel christmas has only lost its meaning for those people who never knew it had a meaning in the first place... Its not about gifts or commerce or even holidays abroad. Its about remembering and celebrating the birth of the ONE person who taught us the basic human principles that lead to real happiness. If we would remember these principles more often the world would surely be a better place. After all the basic message of Chrismas is love. Can love ever lose its meaning?
Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus-Austria

So is it true that this is to be the last Imperial Christmas in Britain? In future, EU rules will standardise the feast on metric principles.... celebrations will be between 10 am and 10 pm on the 10th October only. Each person can send 10 cards and 10 gifts only! Every year I say I wont continue to celebrate Christmas in such a consumerist way.... now if governments find it necessary to regulate smoking and drinking, education and driving - why not regulate Christmas too - for our own good! Christams is after all a major health risk.
J Colley, Australia

I believe Christmas should be about the birth of Jesus Christ but it is also about stopping and taking a breath from our hectic lives and appreciating the people around us.
Jennifer Broughton, England

I'm the first to grumble about the superficiality and commercialisation of Christmas ... but if it's lost its original meaning, it's gained a fresh modern one, which is that there should always be room for other people, and time to tell your friends and relatives you love them. I think it's amazing how every culture gradually comes to love Christmas as much as we supposedly Christians do. As for the determined doubters - happy humbug everyone!
Fiona Cowan, UK

For the western so called civilised people, Christmas means only one thing and that is getting drunk. The Government in UK is encouraging this, and extending bar times for the New Year. I am not a Christian but I believe it is a time to understand the spiritual side of Humanity.
Mike, UK

Christmas may have lost its meaning for the younger generations, but it is still a time of family-togetherness and a time to celebrate what we have achieved in the year. Surely this is the most important thing in times that are characterised by younger people questioning religious faith and spirituality.
Nikki Sims, UK

Communities need communal festivals and celebrations. Christmas falls around the same time as many mid-winter festivals: solstice, Roman saturnalia, Diwali, Hannukah - to name but a few. In the Northern Hemisphere they are all festivals of light connected with the return journey of the sun. I was brought up in the Christian tradition and I love carols, midnight mass, evergreens, gifts and festive food and I still celebrate the goodness and joy of life although I am now a practising Buddhist. Let everyone enjoy the season and the gatherings of friends and family - it doesn't matter what path they follow. Currently I am spending Christmas in Australia and experiencing this festival from another perspective. Joy to the world and peace on earth.
Taylor Love-Taylor, Australia

The two months leading up to Christmas is a real pain. Because of our possession-orientated, advertisement-led, greedy "must have" society, everywhere is crowded, and people get very cross and grumpy unnecessarily. To do a simple supermarket shop, or post a letter becomes a major planning exercise to avoid the queues and crush. I am always glad once it's all over and life can return to normal.

Perhaps when thinking about what we're celebrating at this time of the year its worth noting that the original celebration (before it was hijacked by Christianity) was a pagan one to mark the end of the winter and shorter nights. As this was an occasion with large amounts of eating, drinking and merrymaking we could say that the occasion is getting back to what it was originally about!
Alan, UK

Christmas hasn't "lost its meaning" because it has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. The most religious day of Christians used to be January 12th and the holy day was Saturday. It was only in AD 312 under the Roman Emperor Constantine that Christians sold out and changed to December 25th and Sunday, to come into line with the dominant religion of the time, the Cult of Sol Invictus. If Christians want to have a purely religious day which has nothing to do with commercialism why don't they go back to January 12th and leave the rest of us alone to have our fun. It's typical of the hypocrisy of Christians to hijack someone else's culture (eg Christmas trees, Easter eggs) and then whinge when things aren't done their way.
Sean O'Connor, United Kingdom

Christmas hasn't lost ALL it's meaning - but the Christian aspect of this festival has been increasingly diminished. This is NOT necessarily a bad thing┐As increasingly, at least in the UK, the Christian Church is itself diminishing in popularity. Today's Christmas is more a secular festival; though even non-Christians, like myself, have taken the ideals of a special time to celebrate peace and brotherhood to heart. Christmas may not be 'what it used to be', but that is more to do with our changing society and it's cultural mix than any degeneration of morals. And anyway, let us remember that 'Christmas' was a special festival for us Britons long before Christ┐So whether or not he has a major part to play in no way detracts from this being a time of festivities!
Steve Beat, UK

I believe the issue depends entirely on what religion you follow. To a practising Christian, Christmas is still the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For a non-believer, the Christmas period is a time for holidays, family gatherings and reflection on the past year. But the issue lies in the fact that less and less people are practising Christianity and thus it seems that Christmas is indeed loosing the true meaning. This maybe a hard pill for Christians to swallow, but I believe the Christmas holiday will always be celebrated, though more out of tradition in times to come. I would also like to say that whatever your faith, the commercialism of the holiday by large corporations wanting to make a quick buck is utterly disgusting.
Findarato, UK

Christmas has lost its meaning. People are more and more getting attracted to the commercial aspect of Christmas (shopping) than the religious aspect of it which is the birth of Jesus. I find that as the Christmas season begins, people are talking mainly about Christmas shopping, which cards to buy, wrappers, decorations, Christmas tree, etc instead of talking about going to church, attending Christmas Mass and other like religious events. Also it is being bundled together with the New Year which is then marketed as a time to drink and make merry.
M Irfan, UK

If you are a Christian and you are saying that we should be thinking about Jesus at Christmas above all else, then surely you are excluding all non-Christians from the celebrations, which is hardly a charitable act at a time of good will such as this. Personally I'd rather spend time thinking about my family at Christmas than about Jesus.
Tom Cooper, UK

Why do so many people spoil Christmas by bringing religion into it?
Vernon Bigg, UK

I am not religious but I think that Christmas is a great festival: it encourages generosity, kindness, community spirit and hope. Even if you are not a practising Christian, the teachings of Christ make a lot of sense and it's good to mark the birth of such a man. Sadly, the commercial aspect of Christmas has become too dominant. Every year, there are more and more Christmas goods on the shelves and even pop stars who make a big thing of their faith rush to join in the scramble for money and publicity with gimmicky Christmas songs. Still, merry Christmas everyone!
Kirsty Hearn, UK

If we live in a material world - then the things we do and participate in will be represented in a material way. For the spiritual side of Christmas to become more apparent, humanity would have to develop its spirituality. Easter is perhaps the most important date because it celebrates the coming of the Christ to the world. But Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus (note the two different family trees of Jesus as shown in two of the Gospels), and it was Jesus who brought the Christ to the world, through his understanding of the world at that time and his desire to help the world.
Robin Bate, Scotland

It means nothing to me, I'm a Hindu. But as a shop owner it means a lot to my bank manager.
Ali Upadabum, UK

Christmas never had any meaning really anyway. It's basically a Christian attempt to stop pagan worshipping their earth deities, an attempt that has failed miserably, as most thing about Christmas, or Yule, are pagan anyway. The giving of presents, the bringing in of evergreens into the house and decorating them, twelve days of feasting, all of this is pagan. So are the Christian in fact celebrating a Christian festival using pagan symbolism? Ponder that whilst eating you turkey.
Neill Wood, UK

That those who don't care about Christmas respect the opinion and the choice of those who do care. And it is not because some people have reduced Christmas to a commercial venture, that Christmas has lost all meaning for humankind. Should people not reflect on the fact that Jesus is the only person in history whose birthday is remembered years after years by millions of people? And despite the efforts of so many powers and individuals to abolish all public presence of Christianity, it is still there and the Gospel continues to be present and to grow in our world. Luckily because the Gospel, Christmas, is giving a real hope to the world, it gives the right perspective for people; it gives meaning to life. A blessed Christmas to all you readers.
Pierre C., Belgium

Christmas sure has lost its meaning. Today, it reflects more as a traditional festival of decorations, Christmas tree, family get-together(s) rather than church, and the true significance of the Birth of Lord Jesus. I wish the younger generation would do more than what the previous generation did to educate, cultivate and preserve Christmas as it truly is... the birth of the Saviour!
Raj Stephen, USA

Christmas is a time to remember virtues such as kindness, compassion, respect and dignity. We lose track in our "hectic" lives of what's special and meaningful...and suffer because of it. It is not just a time to be kind. It is a time to pause, reflect, and rebuild. Christmastime is here for us to love one another...that's Christ's message. I'm not religious, but I know that he'd prefer us not to worship him, just practice what he preached - love, dignity, kindness. These transcend any religion. So, in the hustle and bustle, stop and take the time to rest and restore. The gifts mean nothing without the spiritual behind them. And this is why we should never forget that Christmas is an occasion to celebrate more than Christ's birth...Christmas is a time to remember Christ's message... all year long! Here's to keeping one's sense of occasion! Cheers to all!!!
Brigitte Lawson, Canada

I'm not a religious person, but I do celebrate Christmas, as much of the world does. In the USA, and much of the world I would imagine, it is hard to even see traces of Christmas' religious roots with Santa Claus, elves, shopping and so on. While others may argue that this is a horrible thing, I'd argue that it is the only religious holiday that crosses religious and cultural barriers as many other religious holidays do. No other holiday brings a community, country or world closer together than Christmas. As our world becomes smaller and many people of many different cultural and religious backgrounds are forced to live in the same communities, it is nice to see a holiday that can span cultural or religious differences and unite different groups.
Jordan Medeiros, USA

yes I feel that Christmas has lost its meaning through out the years. Christmas now seems to be about what expensive gifts you can afford. We have to start remembering what Christmas is all about. It is Jesus┐ birthday. Presents are nice but we have to remember what Christmas is really all about.
Maria , USA

The universality of Christmas is not by human might or power, but by the spirit of God Himself, whose son's birthday, is celebrated that day. However, some factors are making the celebration of Christmas lose its spiritual meaning, as the season of divine peace and joy. These are its commercialisation, politicisation, poverty, wars, social and physical insecurity. It is good that both Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas. At least, let's have one thing that keep us all together - a reminder that we are all of one beginning irrespective of race, colour, location, belief, and orientation. I still believe that the best way for anyone to celebrate Christmas is to try and make every little child around happy by giving them gifts, choice foods, fanfare, and lots of love. Our children need more days like that.
Nwaogwugwu G. C., Nigeria/ USA

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