Finally, Christmas Eve has arrived!
As I mentioned in my previous post, there are few phrases in the English languages as evocative as Christmas Eve. Although Christmas has for the most part morphed into a secular, consumer driven holiday in our society, nevertheless it still retains for many in the world deep religious meaning. There is probably no other day, except Easter Sunday, that still possess the religious atmosphere that Christmas Eve (and Christmas day) does. In our technologically saturated world, a world that seems more and more chaotic and divorced from traditions as each day passes, such ancient religious days take on all the more importance.
Part of what makes Christmas Eve so special is the anticipation. It is not yet Christmas, but rather the day itself is still a few hours away. From a religious perspective, the birth of Christ has not yet taken place; the joys and gatherings of family reunions are still, for most, a day away. From a secular one, especially for children, the joys and pleasures of all those present we hope to get is still to come. We wait for that secular and cultural saint, Santa.
Whether you celebrate Christmas as a religious or a purely secular holiday, the message of Christmas, peace, love and hope, is still a messages that is universally associated with this holiday. Even for those with no religious inclination whatsoever, such ideas cannot be denied as fundamentally good.
But in the end, what I find most powerful about Christmas Eve is the mystical, the religious and the divine. The darkness of a winter night is broken by the hope of new life, the birth of Christ, and the renewal of life, as least our spiritual lives. It is the first rays of light, the first gentle glimmer of hope in a world that is too often stifled with darkness. And that is always worth celebrating.