Magic of the Holiday Season: Religion or Morals? December 15 2015








The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Regardless of your religion, belief, faith, or spiritual background, you must agree that this time of the year – the “Holiday Season” – is one of the most joyful times of the year.

People just seem to be happier, more giving and more forgiving during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And even though “Season’s Greetings” is typically seen as a Christmas salutation, and Christmas is a Christian religious holiday, in our country today people of nearly all religions, as well as the non-religious share the joy of the Holiday Season. Some fully embrace the Christian side of the Holiday, while others have taken to “X”-ing Christ out from Christmas and refer this season as “Xmas.”

More Than Half the Human Population Are Believers

According to the “Population Clock,” a feature provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population is approximately 7.3 billion. Of those billions, more than half – 4.9 billion individuals – self-identify as followers or believers of one of the five largest major world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

And at a time when it seems as if powerful forces are conspiring to tear us apart, this is the season that brings us together year after year, celebrating generosity, gratitude, joy and love in spite of our many significant differences.

And make no mistake, these differences are real and they are meaningful. But they pale in comparison to the things we share, regardless of whether we are religious or not, regardless of whether our beliefs fall under a formally organized religion or if we refer to ourselves as “spiritual.”

Blackscape Outdoor Living Celebrates Your Faith Community

I respect your choice of religion. My purpose for writing this post is to celebrate the spirit of people of all faiths during this most joyous time of year.

I am an avid and enthusiastic cook, and especially love to prepare and share special meals during the Holiday Season. Using food as an analogy for faith, this topic has been sliced, diced, chopped, minced pureed, boiled and examined from every point of view imaginable. From the literary and theological to the scientific, it sometimes seems as if religion has been analyzed and thought nearly to death.

But the beauty of a great dish is that it takes a variety of different but complementary ingredients, and with a little TLC (or in this case Holiday Cheer) blends them together into a wholly new and different concoction that’s more delicious than the sum of its parts. And that is basically how the Christmas Season works also.

Regardless of whether you believe or not, whether you’re a member of an “organized religion,” or not, regardless of whether you consider yourself spiritual, I’d like to share with you what I have found to be some of the similar characteristics of the top five major religions, and how they combine to help make Christmas one of the most popular and festive holidays of the year.

Here Are Four of My Favorite Common Characteristics

In his book Religions of the World, Niels Nielsen presents 13 common characteristic found in most religions. I am especially in love with these four.

  1. Religions commonly promote a moral code or ethical principles to guide individuals and communities.
  2. Religious life engages and incorporates common emotional and intuitive human feelings, a sense of wonder, and the bond experienced in the community.
  3. Religions promise an inner peace and harmony despite the changes of life.
  4. Religions typically offer a future hope of a better life through some type of transformation.

Every religion has special, sacred days and holidays that they celebrate throughout the year. Each religion is distinguished by its method of practice and rituals that are approved and accepted by its followers and members, yet found strange and mysterious by others, usually non-followers of that particular religion.

But to me, these 4 truths are the ones that we’ve been taught since childhood. Taking care of ourselves and our communities, being kind to others, the golden rule: “treat others as you’d like to be treated.”

There is no scientific research or correlation to back me up. It is my own observation that tells me people are kinder, more generous, and more patient during the “Holiday Season,” and that this is based not just on religion, but on our innate human kindness.

The holiday season is a happy, giving, forgiving time that helps us all be better people. Is it thanks to religion or morals, or something completely different? It doesn’t matter so long as we treat each other and ourselves with love, respect, and joy during this Holiday Season.

Season's Greetings from Blackscape Outdoor Living!

The Christian cross is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, and is the current symbol of faith in our collection. However, I respect all faiths and beliefs and will, upon request and with discernment and commitment to quality, custom design a work of outdoor art based on the symbol of your faith.