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Is Christ still in Christmas?

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As Christmas nears in religion teacher Joseph Gallen’s house, he says his family is “pretty low-key” about decorations. “We don’t decorate until late and we don’t have any Christmas-y rituals other than the tree and maybe one gift,” Gallen said. When Christmas comes around, his family focuses more on the birth of Jesus than the decorations, presents, and songs that are typically paired with the holiday.

Christmas is known to be a time for family, gifts, and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In the JC community, the holiday is seen from various angles as our school contains Catholic, non-Catholic, and non-religious students and faculty. It is also seen in different lights depending on how a family treats the holiday. Some families stick to the old school traditions like Saint Nicholas, other families gravitate towards the glitz and glamour of Santa Claus, and some try to maintain both.

Religion teacher Dave Huber, a Catholic, strives to keep Jesus the main priority in his family’s celebration of Christmas. “I’ll ask them [my children] out of the blue ‘what’s Christmas all about?’ ‘It’s about Jesus’ and I’ll remind them that, look, presents don’t really make us happy,” Huber said.

We think Christ is really important and we never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.”

— Senior Katie Mills

Senior Katie Mills shares that Jesus is extremely important to her family during Christmas. “I personally think Christ is still in Christmas because in my family, we think Christ is really important and we never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas,” Mills said.

However, sophomore Kiana Miller says that people are losing sight of Jesus. “I feel like people really take away from the real meaning of Christmas and focus on the presents,” Miller said.

Huber, Mills, and Miller all believe that religion is the most important aspect of Christmas and that Jesus should be the main priority of the holiday. However, they feel religion is losing a competition with materialism during the holiday.

Gallen also agrees that religion in the holiday is being lost. “One of the things that the religion teachers talk about is the idea that we neglect Advent and we have all the trappings of Christmas up right away and Advent is a four week season and we sort of just abandon it. A couple of the religion teachers or maybe one or two of the other teachers historically have had Advent wreaths or Advent candles and they light the candles, but that’s about it,” Gallen said.

There are people at JC that look forward to the holiday for the presents, family time, and Santa Claus more than Jesus. Whether they are religious or not, people look forward to the music and decorations because it gets them in the Christmas spirit.

“I think presents are an important part for Christmas because that is what I would expect in China. We don’t talk about Christ in China, so I would expect presents,” senior Arthur Zhang said.

According to Huber, for families that are not religious, Santa Claus seems to take the place of Jesus. “I think Santa can be seen as a likeness to Christ because of his generosity, and certainly Saint Nicholas, if the record was right about his life, he was certainly a generous man. I struggle, there’s the whole Santa Claus is coming to town, he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, it’s sort of an omnipresent being … only God can do such a thing,” Huber said.

Huber believes religion is also living in the shadow of Christmas music. “I understand that the shopping season starts with Black Friday so if you want to start Thanksgiving Day and go to the radio station and play Christmas music, okay, even though for us Catholics it’s Advent. Christmas isn’t until the Feast of the Nativity, which is 4:00 pm Christmas Eve night, that’s when Christmas starts … we’re in anticipation, we’re waiting,” Huber said.

Some families desire to celebrate both the religious and materialistic components of the holiday. Gallen’s family, for example, tries to maintain a balance between the two.

Families like Gallen’s celebrate the birth of Jesus by going to Mass and praying the Advent wreath, but they also celebrate the holiday by listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with their families. “We go to Christmas Eve Mass and sometimes we go Christmas morning, there’s no set pattern,” Gallen said.

Gallen also talks about how he enjoys Christmas music during the holiday.  “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer and White Christmas, I think they’re really neat, and I don’t mind hearing those in the store when it’s a week away from Christmas,” Gallen said.

“[Materialism] is everywhere. It’s clear that’s where the focus is … You’ve got the secular component of Christmas, and you try to keep the religious, and as families I think most of us try to juggle the two. And I think to try and keep the religious side front and center,” Huber said.

Olivia Collins is a Community Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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Is Christ still in Christmas?