Certainly for some, Christmas is a deeply religious occasion, and a time of reflection on the birth of their saviour. Some might even consider the hedonistic lunching, the frenzy of gift shopping and the gaudy blinking lights and tinsel-covered trees a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. They're wrong.Yup, pretty much right. Christmas has long lost its religious rationale for many of us, but it is still a valuable occasion. Whether on Christmas Day itself or throughout the week or two leading into the New Year, we get a chance to catch up with many of the most important people in our lives. Those who are absent (perhaps interstate or overseas) are in our thoughts, and we at least do something to renew contact ... by sending cards or making phone calls or whatever best works. This time of year is, above all, a celebration of our relationships with the people whom we care about and who care about us.
For most of us, Christmas is precisely about all those silly customs and rituals we perform each year. This is because, ultimately, Christmas is about tradition, it's about family, and it's about taking time out to share a feast with the most important people in our lives.
And like many traditions, the purported justification for its existence is far less interesting and far less important than the function the tradition plays in our lives. And once you divorce the religious justification from the practice, you can get an insight into what Christmas is really about.
Sure, some alternative that had no religious roots at all might be good, but the religious side of it is pretty much irrelevant to the way Christmas actually functions for many of us in today's society. It's a time in the year that's well worth keeping because of what it's really become.