Today, in the Church, it is the Third Sunday of Advent...also known as Gaudete Sunday.
The reason it is called, "Gaudete Sunday", is because the Latin translation of the Introit (the scripture passage used when there is no music at Mass) is, " Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." (Phillipians 4:4-5) and in Latin it says, " Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum."
It's all about REJOICE this week!
In the Catholic Church, the more somber violet-purple vestments of the, "little penitential season of Advent" give way to rose-pink colored vestments- to remember that we are getting closer to Christmas and it's time to rejoice! We are supposed to be encouraged in our spiritual preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ...and when He will come again.
Christmas is not about red and green, or presents, or parties, or the birthday of Jesus, or even family. Christmas is about the preparation for when Jesus Christ will come again; and to commemorate the mystery of when The Word of God became flesh- that is, a man, like us, in all things but sin.
It is far more than a birthday party.
It's one of the reasons that I get a little irritated by all the well-meaning folks who make such a big deal about store employees who don't say, "Merry Christmas" or the "War on Christmas" talked about ad nauseam on some TV stations. Other things drive me absolutely crazy too- like singing, "Happy Birthday, Jesus" at Mass on Christmas Eve at the 'Children's Mass." ARGH!!! It's not a birthday party!!
Look, it's perfectly fine to people to say, "Happy Holidays". It's a National Holiday. I don't care if a Nativity Scene is up or down or even allowed. I don't even care if people celebrate this National Holiday by exchanging gifts, singing secular songs and spending time with the ones they love- or not.
That's not what Christmas is about for Christians...it is not about what other people, "do or do not." (to quote Yoda)
For Christians, it has a different meaning.
So, celebrate Christmas any way you want...and don't get hung up on the fact that others don't celebrate it the way you THINK it should be celebrated-especially if you are a Christian.
If you are a Christian, and you celebrate the Advent season by fasting, prayer and alms-giving, and the Christmas Season by attending Church services, serving others, and remembering that we believe and look forward to when that He will come again- and that He took on the flesh of man and was born of the Virgin Mary and suffered like one of us- well, then, you have celebrated Christmas! And, you know, if you did it right, others will notice.
Really, what you DO says a lot more than what you say.