Should you ask me now, how I spent my Christmas morning, the answer is a simple one; I was serving and worshipping the Lord in my local church.
Most Christians spend their Christmas with family. It is a Christian family tradition for the whole family to attend church where we hear a special Christmas messages from the minister / pastor / priest.
In Australia, I look around me and consider the contrast, as to those people who haven't heard about the Gospel and how they spent their Christmas? Sure enough, they know that when Christmas comes around, some of their friends will attend church, and in their limited understanding, somehow get blessed from God.
Some will consider that Christmas is a holiday for extra shopping, as many shops will have Boxing Day sales, it's a shopping bonanza. Some from other non-Christian nations will work on Christmas Day and simply assume it is public holiday for westerners, certainly, not for them.
When I was growing up in my hometown in China, I had not heard about Christianity, but I did somehow know about Christmas Day. As I think back to those years I had the idea that Christmas was somehow a carnival.
This was because of the people around us, especially the youth, who would gather around in the city centre to hear the sound when the Big Clock hit 12:00am on Christmas Eve (no not - New Year's Eve).
This did not deter anyone from this major festival event that the next day was a working day. I can recall that every year, there were more than 150,000 people in the city square for the big clock event. No one ever explained to me what Christmas actually meant. Perhaps they didn't know either.
The weekend in China
In my hometown in China, if this Christmas Day festival fell on the weekend, the shop owners and managers of department store were very excited – it was a shopping spree. Customers flooded into every shop to "grab" the goods on sales without hesitation. The sales figures inevitably reached the highest for the year.
And it wasn't only commercial shops that benefitted, the restaurants too, as they did a roaring trade. Having fought the good fight with the throng of competing shoppers on those pesky 'sales specials', a great meal in a restaurant was an ideal adventure. After the excitement of shopping, who would even want to go home and cook and then wash the dishes.
In my hometown in China the people were so caught up with this annual festival that no one ever told anyone about Christianity, rather our tradition of Christmas Day was a celebration and a non-Christian manner.
A different reason now
As a Christian now, I realise that as John 3 verse 16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". Christmas is indeed the birthday of Jesus Christ. He came to earth 2000 years ago to save His sinful people. Sadly in my hometown in China, the people have not heard the Gospel story and it's a shopping explosion.
I realise Christmas Day is a holiday for most countries, but for the Christian it is for worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, it is also a time of the year, people can visit family and also share the good news from God above.
It is a time traditionally when people relax from the fast pace of work – it's a kind of end of year break for recuperation.
For me now, I use Christmas as a reflection period of all that happened in the year that was. I give thanks to the Lord for His blessing. In my opinion, this is the reason for the Christmas holiday – many may not know that the Chinese New Year is an entirely different celebration, that of looking ahead.
It is now four weeks since Christmas and we're well into the new year, so for me, the reason for the Christmas season is to say thank you and for the new year to seek wisdom for the Lord for the adventure ahead.
Oscar Duan is from China, he has an accountancy degree from University of Hertfordshire (UH) International campus in Malaysia, and has undertaken further accountancy studies in Australia for accreditation here. He is married to Heyley.
Oscar Duan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/oscar-duan.html