Merry Christmas! It always catches me off guard how busy the holidays can get. There is always so much travelling, shopping, cooking, and visiting to pack in to the weeks surrounding Christmas Day. My husband and I had one of the longest trips home this year, travelling 5 days to get from Asia to our final destination in the US. Needless to say, it was an exhausting trip, but it was a great adventure, and we were blessed to meet some great people along the way and see some beautiful places.
So far, our holiday in the states has been great despite the cold. We have felt so blessed to be surrounded by loving family and friends and have been overwhelmed by the holiday spirit everywhere we go. It seems like since we were last in the US everything has suddenly transformed into shiny reddness, with nativity scenes dotting neighborhood lawns, and an overwhelming aroma of pine trees and cinnamon in nearly every building you enter- Quite the contrast from the Asian Christmas experience. To give a little perspective let me explain briefly about Christmas in a very non-Christian area of the world.
It is estimated that 6.5% of the population in Asia are Christian. This encompasses all denominations of the Christian church- Roman Catholic, orthodox, and protestant. Most countries in South and Southeast Asia in particular are overwhelmingly Buddhist, Hindu, and in some cases Muslim meaning that few people know anything about Christianity. Most people in those areas of the world know Christmas simply as on opportunity to decorate with lots of sparkles and pillow stuffing and listen to Jingle Bells. This translates into cashiers wearing Santa hats, entry ways filled with fake, unnaturally colored christmas trees, and previously unknown versions of classic christmas carols playing over the sound system in the weeks leading up to December 25th. Some people have a special celebration on the 24th or 25th. In some areas, friends gather at cafes, sharing cups of coffee and joking about the days events at work before heading out for an evening of karaoke. There is no knowledge of why they are celebrating, it’s just an opportunity to mimic an important day in the West.
When talking about celebrating Christmas while living in Asia, Anna always laughs when she thinks of her first year dating Nam. The week before Christmas, Anna asked what Nam’s plans were for the 25th. Nam announced that he would be working and would not be able to join in any plans that she had. That is when Anna truly realized Christmas just is not the same holiday when in Asia.
Slowly the true Christmas message is spreading in Asia. Many churches host special programs that share the Christmas story, and various Christian groups and organizations put on events to engage everyone in the surrounding community in the Christmas spirit. Some of our programs hosted amazing events this year. Students from the In His Image center performed in a Christmas program, and many of our TCT churches have special Christmas services planned.
Today all of the Reconciled World team will be spending the day with family and friends and reflecting on all that today means to us. We hope you all have a blessed day filled with great fellowship, friends, and family, celebrating our Savior’s birth!
“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at His birth.”
– Luke 1:14
Merry Christmas!Image courtesy of jeffweese / Flickr