Religions are paths to God-the Supreme Being- the goodness. God- without shape and form…a hard concept to understand. Primitive man worshiped him in the form of nature. Then in different places, different religions formed to understand God. So Hinduism, Muslim, Jews, Christianity, Buddhism….everything leads to God to promote goodness in human hearts.
Each religious festival has a meaning regardless of the religion, story or myth behind it.
Jews celebrate Hanukkah- festival of lights, symbolizes hope and faith.
Hindus celebrate Diwali- which is also festival of light, symbolizes victory of light over darkness.
Ramadan is very important for Muslims since it promotes self-discipline, sacrifice, generosity and charity.
Christmas has meaning too.
Christians believe God gave his son as a gift to this world. Jesus as an infant, it was a celebration of motherhood for Mary. So the meaning of Christmas is love, giving, sacrifice, parenthood, and joy. The Christmas tree is like the Tree of life. Ornaments are like good deeds, making it look beautiful. So all together, Christmas is a celebration of life. When we say “Merry Christmas”, it means ‘I am so happy for you and wish you all the joy of life’.
Nowadays most festivals are commercialized. Christmas is all about shopping and gifts. Santa Clause and Christmas tree is used to promote that concept. It is true that Hanukkah is celebrated at the same time as Christmas. Since majority of the people are Christians, it was a Christmas time in countries full of Christians. But now Christmas time is ‘holidays’ for people – Christmas is too “religious” word to use or saying it is ignoring other festivals. Much controversy is going on around this issue.
In this world where is tolerance and acceptance? Is it so hard for a Christian to say back, “Happy Hanukkah”, or a Jew to say back “Happy Christmas”? Is it so bad for anyone to receive a good wish? Even if an atheist says back the greeting means, that person has tolerance and acceptance; and he joins in the happiness of his fellow human beings.
Why we humans define ourselves in terms of commercialism? Why we don’t consider the real meaning of festivals? Why we became intolerant to accept different people and their beliefs?
If our friend is happy about the arrival of a new born- we will celebrate it with him. If it is a festival, why we don’t celebrate it with him? His kid is his own, the same way his festival is his own too. We join in the happiness of our friend.
So when you get a greeting at Christmas, say back ‘Happy Christmas’; when you say it-mean it. If you know Jew friends, say “Happy Hanukkah” to them. Please don’t destroy the meaning behind festivals which promotes goodness in us.