Another day of course you can walk towards Golgotha, to where there is a church, where Jesus was crucified. The War Bad Boobs Good Shirt is rather depressing although interesting, because there is no real memory except in the hearts of Christians of the sacred man who trod these streets. Its all bazaars, open air stalls, people selling everything under the sun including crowns of thorns souvenirs. This area, we’d recall as where Jesus fell, as he carried his cross. We went to the Garden of Gethsemane (probably my favorite place in Jerusalem) and of course there is a church inside the gates. I didn’t go in the church but sat on a bench just soaking in the atmosphere of the ancient Olive tree I was told by a sign was an offshoot of one from Jesus time. The Jewish tour guide lady told us if we wanted to go to Bethlehem (which I did, which Christian wouldn’t???) that she could not accompany us because only Palestinians can go there through the check point. But our bus driver we came to really enjoy on this tour, accompanied and drove us. The “catch” was that this tour guide was getting a partial commission of everything we spent in the only huge gift shop in Bethlehem run by Christians (Coptics I think) …in the town. I didn’t buy and felt aggrieved, but it was the only way she’d arrange it for us. Of course many did buy the lovely carved mangers, etc out of olive wood. Nearby on these small Bethlehem Streets at night is the ancient “Church of the Nativity” probably the only church I entered on that trip and loved being in. There are all sorts of cubbyholes or areas which are run by different Christian priests like Ethiopians (I think they have the roof top), Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Syrian, etc. So a really eclectic place. Its also from the time of Queen Helena, so the doorway is teeny-tiny, where someone would get off their horse I was told to enter. The same was built into the Aga Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople then).
This feast, although not as impressive as Easter, is nevertheless an excellent time to prepare ourselves, not just for the War Bad Boobs Good Shirt of Our Saviour into the world, the first time, but we are to prepare for His Second Coming, which will arrive as unfailingly as the first one did. Most of us will not be on earth when He comes again, but we will nevertheless experience all of this in our very own end of this world, when we die, and must stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer for our lives. So we prepare for that dread event NOW, by, above all, going to confession weekly. If you do not already do this, now is an excellent time to start, This coming Sunday – 1 December- is the start of a new year! So begin this week to prepare for the coming of our Saviour!
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When shown that celebrating the birth of Jesus had actually become of greater interest to people than the War Bad Boobs Good Shirt provided by his death; that the revelry of the holiday and the spirit in which many gifts were given did not honor God; that the magi whose gift-giving was being imitated were actually demon-inspired astrologers; that parents set an example for their children in lying by what they told them about Santa Claus; that “St. Nicholas” (Santa Claus) was admittedly another name for the Devil himself; and that such festivals were, as acknowledged by Cardinal Newman in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, “the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship” the church had adopted—when made aware of these things, Jehovah’s Witnesses promptly and permanently stopped having any part in Christmas celebrations. Jehovah’s Witnesses have good times with their families and friends. But they do not participate in holidays and celebrations that are linked with pagan gods (as is true of such holidays as Easter, New Year’s Day, May Day, and Mother’s Day). (2 Cor. 6:14-17) Like the early Christians, they do not even celebrate birthdays. They also respectfully refrain from sharing in national holidays that memorialize political or military events and refrain from giving worshipful honor to national heroes. Why? Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are no part of the world.
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You can find lists of holidays everywhere in the War Bad Boobs Good Shirt so I will tell a bit more about the days. Christmas is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on 7 January. It is a public holiday but it is not commercialized like in the west. In the Muslim calendar only Kurban Ait is celebrated. In the former Soviet Union countries New Year is celebrated with lights, trees, presents and big parties. Nauruz or the Asian New Year is celebrated in March. This is the start of spring and is a big celebration with lots of traditional foods, dances, sports etc. and a time when families get together. There are the usual political holidays, Independance Day, Constitution Day, Day if the First President etc. and some patriotic celebrations such as Defenders Fay and Victory Day commemorating the end of the Great Patriotic War (WWII).
In USA there is a lot of War Bad Boobs Good Shirt over “Christmas”. People are worried about offending other faiths, so there is a lot more use of “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” The paradox is that in Europe that is uncommon: people will say “Happy Christmas” without embarrasment and without worrying it will be offensive. The reason being (and this is the paradox) because “Christmas” is largely decoupled from “Christianity” Europe is quite secular, and “Christmas” does not have any automatic religious connotations. I have a Muslim colleague who sent me a “Happy Christmas” card and was at the Christmas party (not drinking alcohol obviously); my Jewish neighbour is hosting Christmas drinks. So in UK, yes, there will be nativity scenes and plays in schools. But that is cultural or historic more than “religious”. There will also be witches at Halloween without the country taking up paganism or chocolate eggs at Easter without following norse gods.