Christmas was once the sole domain of those of the Christian faith. It continues to have an overwhelming religious significance for those who believe in the once existence of the person called Jesus Christ.
Now in 2011 just on 59% of the population identified themselves as Christian, and the 2016 census identified that 52.1% of Australians classified themselves as Christian.
That’s a significant drop and on that basis we might expect that the next census in 2021 will show that less then 50% of all Australians are identifying themselves as Christian.
Yet the celebration of Christmas is certainly celebrated by a proportion of Australians that would be definitely well over 50%.
So what is it they are celebrating and why?
Well, no survey that we can identify has ever asked that question, certainly in a large-scale survey.
yet, how they celebrate is another question that can be answered. Aussies celebrate it with family and or friends, and they do so down the beaches, in parks, in homes, in restaurants in fact, wherever they can create an environment where they can have a good time. Some celebrate it hospitals and others community centres and others in some of the most remote and harsh places on the planet.
Yet not everyone does celebrate Christmas, but regardless of that and regardless of a ongoing increase in those identifying as being non-Christian, there is no evidence of the celebration becoming any less popular.
In fact, there has been an overwhelming rise against the so called-political correctness when authorities attempt to ban the name Christmas, certain elements of Christmas and the traditional celebrations that are held at the time.
So why does Christmas remain so important to us? Maybe it’s because it is part of our tradition, our way of life, be that a religious or non-religious life.
Australian’s love to celebrate. Australians love to get-together with family and friends and whether they throw a few prawns on the barbie or have a traditional roast dinner with all the side dishes – they do so with gusto, good nature and generally the beer and wine will flow freely.
We are in fact celebrating a number of things, whether consciously or unconsciously. We are celebrating being part of a family pack and that pack can be all of the same blood or, it can consist of friends as well as family, and in so many ways it can really be all our fellow Australians.
For while suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes that present themselves during the year, we know, that we live in what truly is one of (if not the) greatest countries in the world.
There will always be issues to face, always be wrongs to right and always be people who are out to take from us, whatever they can.
But at Christmas, we put that aside for a brief moment, we do truly experience a bonhomme and for that brief time we feel good will to our fellow people – even if it is simply with those we celebrate Christmas with.
It is through our gifts, be they expensive or be they humble, that we express our need to say, “thank you, I love you for who you are and thank you for being my friend”.
Some of us celebrate it by moving among those who are less fortunate and in doing so extend the gift of love and concern to strangers.
So be you Christian, non-religious and even part of a religion that does not recognise Christmas – we say to you, for this moment, on this day, the 25th December, it is OK to say “Merry Christmas!
At the end of the day make it the one day of the year when we can suspend judgement on others, when we can offer a offer an olive branch of peace, when we can recognise that regardless of our backgrounds and ethnicity, we are all part of a genetic group called “Homo Sapiens”.
Let us be, for one day of the year, travellers together on this spaceship we call earth and let us travel in peace and harmony.