Back to the contents
Christmas and Christianity
read in Macedonian


Part I.  This coming Sunday, December 25, is the day many in the Christian world celebrate Christmas.  Others in the Christian world – mainly those of the Orthodox faith – celebrate Christmas on January 7, meaning that as a friend of Macedonia, I can write two articles on Christmas and celebrate Christmas twice, once as an American who celebrates on December 25th and once as an honorary Macedonian, celebrating on January 7th.  In my home I keep my Christmas decorations and Christmas tree up through January 7th.  

While the celebration of Christ’s birth has been celebrated since at least the 4th century, it is the English speaking world – mainly the US and the UK – that created the modern-day version of Christmas starting with Santa Claus and continuing on to our modern Christmas carols, Christmas songs, the giving of gifts and the crass commercialization that now dominates the West and which is rapidly taking over much of the rest of the world (Christmas songs and Santa Claus or Father Christmas in some cultures, do have origins going back hundreds of years or longer, but when I write about the modern-day version of Christmas, I speak about the past 200 years).  The effect of the US and the UK on the world (especially because of the UK’s past colonization of many countries) has led many non-Christian countries to celebrate Christmas officially.  December 25 is designated officially as Christmas in India, for instance.  In Japan, even though it was not an English colony and does not celebrate Christmas officially, many still celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas. 

Those secular aspects of our modern-day Christmas include the commercialization of Christmas which is actually vital to some countries – the US, Canada, the UK and perhaps a handful of others – and up to 25% of all personal spending can take place during what is euphemistically called “the Christmas season” which can run from the middle of October through the end of December.   

In the US, most Christians celebrate both the secular and spiritual aspects of Christmas, with many attending a special Christmas Eve service at their church or, if Christmas falls on a Sunday as it does this year, by attending a special Christmas Day service.  But the commercial aspect of Christmas in Protestant and Catholic societies does tend to overwhelm and overshadow so much of the holiday. I understand that in the Orthodox world, the emphasis on gift-giving is for New Year’s Day whereas the spiritual aspect is left for Christmas Day.  I like this. 

Part 2. Loosely speaking, I follow the Protestant branch of Christianity but I am not a member of any particular denomination – I am not a Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, or any of the other various denominations that make up the Protestant branch.  This is by choice – I want the focus to be on my belief in and relationship with Jesus the Christ.  I do not fault anyone for being a member of any of those aforementioned groups just as I do not fault anyone for being a Catholic or member of the Orthodox faith. For me, it is simply a matter of not wanting anyone I come into contact with in my life to think certain things about me because I belong to or am a member of this particular group or another.  I am a Believer – a Christian – and it is as simple as that. I follow Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus the Christ – and my faith is in him and him alone. 

I do understand many of the differences between the three main branches of Christianity –  Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant – but all three, at their core, have a belief in what we all celebrate at this time of year.  That Jesus the Christ was born of a virgin, Mary, and that she gave birth to her son in a manger because there was no room in the inn.   

Mary then gave him the name Jesus – and that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess – in heaven, on earth and under the earth – that Jesus the Christ is Lord of all (see the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Macedonians in Philippi – Philippians 2:10-11).  As Christians we also believe that Jesus grew to manhood, that he never sinned, that he was fully 100% man and 100% God and that he is the Son of God.  At Easter, as Christians, we celebrate the fact that he was crucified for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again, very much alive, on the third day, and that he will one day return. 

These are the similarities among us as Believers – Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant.  And despite what differences there might be among us in style and the celebration of our collective faith what unites us is far greater.  So, whether you celebrate Christmas on December 25 or January 7, remember the reason for the season.  And Merry Christmas!

Copyright ©
Jason Miko
Designed & hosted by
Jurak OT Petrof Studio