Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 28 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Wenceslaus
home iconVoices & Views
line break icon

Why this Catholic convert says “Bah, humbug” to Christmas celebrations


Paul Hamilton | CC BY SA 2.0

Robert Kurland - published on 12/03/17

I didn't convert in order to legitimately get Christmas presents, but I have gotten the best one.

Black Friday has come and gone, and so commercial Christmas begins. I am tempted to fall back into my Scrooge persona, rejecting the TV and web commercials that seem to me to say, “Buy, buy, buy; make your nearest and dearest love you with nice costly gifts.” Bah! Humbug!

It takes me back to childhood days, when as a Jew I envied my Christian friends whο had Christmas trees and gifts that were impressive; a bicycle, an electric train. The Chanukkah menorah and eight days of Chanukkah gelt and candy couldn’t hold a candle to that — pun intended.

I see the Christmas TV programs — even that classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” — and it seems to me that more and more, outside of Advent services, we miss entirely the point of Christmas: the Incarnation of God in the person of Jesus, born as a human.

Now this is a truly subtly wonderful event.  All the heresies that deny or subordinate the human person of Christ are made naught by the Nativity.

And so I pray at the beginning of the third decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the birth of Jesus: “Lord, let Christmas be celebrated not just as an occasion for giving gifts, but as the Incarnation, God made man.”

And there it is: the reminder that our God is a God for and of humanity — a God for you and for me, not a god of things. There must be more to Christmas than a Yule tree and Santa Claus. I appreciate that gift-giving echoes the gifts of the Magi, however I did not convert to Catholicism so that I could legitimately receive Christmas gifts. In truth, I still feel somewhat uncomfortable about receiving Christmas gifts, and ask children to donate to a charity instead.

Am I being a Catholic Scrooge, or a modern Puritan trying to wipe out Christmas celebrations? I hope not. Far be it from me to attempt to dampen holiday good feelings.

Nevertheless, I insist the better part of those holiday good feelings should be awe and wonder that God came to us as a man, and that nothing about my humanity has gone unknown or unexperienced by him. From the wood of the cradle to the wood of the cross, he is the God of All-Knowing, who loves me as I am, and has redeemed me. I need no other gift.

ChristmasDevotions and Feasts
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Fr. Michael Rennier
The purpose of life according to J.R.R. Tolkien
crisis man
Marzena Devoud
Advice from 3 monks for overcoming acedia
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
Christ and the woman taken in adultery
Daniel Esparza
What Jesus wrote
Cathedral Duomo
Philip Kosloski
Will souls in Hell receive resurrected bodies?
J-P Mauro
Fr. Kapaun’s remains returned to Kansas after 70 years
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.