Beyond parties, presents and peace proclamations- beyond Santa Claus, reindeer, church bells and Madison Avenue miracles - lies the origin of Christmas. Chances are you've never understood its real meaning. The season to be jolly is nearly upon us again. With it will come parties, gifts, family get-togethers - and family breakups - all with the stern reminder not to forget the "real meaning of Christmas." Admonitions to promote peace, love, joy, goodwill and hope stem from a sincere desire to circumvent the overwhelming commercialism of the season. But as usual, the admonitions will be almost totally ignored, and understandably so. The "real meaning" of the holiday has always been annoyingly vague. To confuse matters further, the alleged birthday of Christ has come to be inescapably associated with a jolly Nordic saint secretly bearing gifts in the night. With a Santa on every street corner, most children forget that Christmas is somehow supposed to be a billion-dollar birthday party for Christ. A closer look at the history of Christmas should clear up the mystery. Ironically enough, it will show that today's generally irreverent celebration of December 25 comes far closer to the "real meaning" of Christmas than most Christians dare to admit.
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