Happy Post-Christmas!

Christmas celebration has just ended but its euphoria is still overwhelming people who celebrate it perhaps until New Year comes. Christmas is actually a religious event, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. However, as time goes on, the religious importance of the celebration evades slowly. True, Christian people will still be going to church to celebrate this event. However, it no longer has a religious essence in a whole. This is a Post-Christmas.

The term of Post-Christmas can be more or less correlated with post-modernism regarding the disappearance of unity on how we view something. In essence, Christmas means a joyful condition covered in modesty. As Jesus was birth in a homeless condition in a stable, it clearly depicts how joyful condition is not limited to the presence of worldly things.

However, the situation is absolutely different right now. In some countries, Christmas is usually followed by Boxing Day just one day after Christmas: December 26th. In this day, there will be many people going outside their home at nearly 5 or 6 in the morning or even from the midnight just for queuing in a shopping center. People will pack across a city center to go shopping because most of the shopping centers offer “Sale” on their products. People can then buy their desired stuffs even at very low cost compared to normal price.

Even in a country where Boxing Day is not officially celebrated, people will also get packed in shopping centers because similar offers do also exist. Take Indonesia as an example, a Muslim-majority country. Even though Christians are only minority in this country, the huge “Sale” offered by shopping centers resemble the euphoria of Boxing Day elsewhere though it is very rare to see people queuing from the early morning. But, same phenomenon is clearly happening.

On one hand this condition does absolutely make sense. Joyful atmosphere brought by Christmas is nowadays celebrated by wrapping up gifts that can be given to others or to ourselves. Sharing joy is then important in Christmas celebration. On the other hand, consumerism that takes place during the Christmas actually negates the Christmas itself. Its religious importance then disappears because Christians are then more interested with the shopping experience itself and neglects the fact that Jesus was born in homeless condition.

Thus, is there a right way to celebrate Christmas aside from going to the church regularly? I would not like to give an exact answer to this question but only a little reflection. In a condition where poverty, disease and many difficulties are still lingering a society, there will always a better way to expend the money rather than going shopping for ourselves. They are actually a reminder that people should act in accordance with justice so they can preserve it by trying to removing injustice lingering others. Just spending a little money for them, in my opinion, has contributed in bringing back the Christmas itself. Does it mean then Christians should be prevented from going shopping? In my opinion it is very hard to achieve this point. Furthermore, Post-Christmas is actually an undeniable fact in a globalized world. Thus, what should be prevented is to become greed and excessive because we should realize that there are many people outside living in dire circumstances who need our help. And perhaps, this can be a median for celebrating Christmas. Happy Post-Christmas!


Debate on “Merry Christmas” Greeting: When Society’s Dynamic is Sustained

There is always one thing interesting occurring in Indonesia just when Christmas is getting closer: the debate about whether or not Moslems are allowed to give “Merry Christmas” greeting to their friends. It is actually a classic debate and is always repeated every year with more or less predicted result: they are not allowed. However this one is actually unique and its uniqueness is actually rendered due to its repetition.

At first, it does seem very clear that announcement made by Indonesia Ulama Council is made as a prevention for those who are not yet aware and as a reminder if someone has just forgotten about it. If the society wholly believes the MUI then a question arises: why does some people still then eager to have debate on this matter? The answers may vary. Someone may say that such a thing is undoubtedly unnecessary since MUI has no right to judge the degree of someone’s devoutness. Religion is a private matter that actually has something to do between God and thy people. This argument is then countered by the opposite one saying that this announcement is necessary since MUI has a right to determine which one is right and wrong to give a guideline for the Moslem people.

In respect to this matter, I have no right to determine which one is right and wrong since I am not a Moslem. However, this condition just lights Indonesians that the dynamic of this society regarding religion is still there. People still want to debate about the role of MUI in determining the “Merry Christmas” despite the fact that quite obvious result is always expected. This condition is actually important because through discussion and debate they can give arguments to back their claims and perhaps gaining some knowledge from others’ position. As always suggested by Jurgen Habermas: because it is public arena, everyone can raise their position backed by rational argument as long as it does make sense.

Perhaps, it may sound very utopia but only through this way can a society sustain its dynamic and prevent arbitrariness of others to get absolute power. Changing arguments can one day lead others to shift their position even though it is very difficult. It may take long time to achieve unanimous opinion in this matter. But the more important thing is they can have better argument each year and perhaps to rethink about their position later on next year and possibly to reach an agreement someday.

This kind of dynamic is actually needed. The thing that should be emphasized is violence is not permitted whatever the reasons behind them. And one thing that is quite important: since this is the case of Moslem people, it is better for the Christians to not intervene in the process unless they feel that they have sufficient degree of knowledge to enter the debate. Joining the debate without sufficient knowledge will only give negative impact. Because in this case, a reflective question may be risen: how important is it actually to be greeted “Merry Christmas” from other if they are not sincere in doing that? In my opinion, it is not that important as long as we respect each other.