Buddhist Christmas

What does Buddhism have to do with Christmas?

Not much of course. Nevertheless, while Christmas becomes more and more visible through all kinds of merchandise articles in Eastern countries, it still plays a very important role for Western Buddhists. Most grew up in an environment where Christmas was the major event of the year. Even if one had parents that were no regular churchgoers, they would not miss out the mass of Christmas eve.

Whether pious Christians like it or not, Christmas isn't any longer only a celebration for the religious in the West. It is an event that is celebrated by the masses regardless of its religious content. For many, it will certainly still be one of the religious highlights of the year, but for the growing non-religious mass, it is equally important as a general festival. Many of the European countries which have a purely Christian ancestry since centuries, many customs and traditions can't be separated anymore from their religious background. Whether one belongs to a specific creed or no, Christmas is certainly the most important event of the year in Europe.

No-one wants to miss out on the great celebration of love when family and friends come together or have to celebrate it alone. You bake Christmas cookies, sing Christmas songs , eat together, go to mass, and enjoy the special festive atmosphere. It is only natural that many Western Buddhists like to celebrate it as well, and why shouldn't they? Even many of my Muslim friends celebrate it.

Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Santa Claus and Christmas CookiesThere is no reason why Buddhists can't go along with it. Christs main message is that of love and Christmas is considered to be the celebration of love. Most Buddhist practice is concerned with developing loving kindness and compassion as well. We can use the holidays and spent it with our family and friends and enjoy the togetherness. If we want to, we can design specific moulds for Christmas cookies, create our own chocolate bodhisattvas, make gifts to one another, and festively decorate our shrines.

There is actually also a few Buddhist societies which organize Christmas celebrations, hold meditation courses at Christmas and send out Christmas greeting cards. Okay, Christmas is considered to be the birth of the son of god, and Buddhists do not really believe in that.Well, but a lot of the symbolism involved might not even really be Christian after all. The exact date is not uncontested and already the pagans celebrated winter solstice around this time. Even the Christmas tree is under suspicion to have non-Christian origins. Who knows, maybe it all goes back to Indian tree-cults in the end? :o))

So, I will again decorate my bodhi tree this year and enjoy Christmas with my family. For those of you who also like to sing, here's my suggestion for a possible Buddhist "Christmas song":

O Bodhi Tree, O Bodhi tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Bodhi Tree, O Bodhi tree,
Your beauty green will teach me. 

Merry Christmas Everybody!

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