Christmas, one of the most important celebrations for Christians throughout Europe has a very deep religious meaning that is written into Polish national tradition and culture.
In the interview with Catholic Television station Trwan, Professor Mieczysław Ryba says that the Christmas tree, sharing the communion wafer, mutual kindness, and the midnight Christmas Eve mass are joined into particular traditions and customs which connect humanity and allow the faithful to live their lives through these events in such a deep manner.
However, the professor noted that Christmas is undergoing a secularization of the holiday in Europe and even steadily in Poland.
‘A trend which we have known from the times of Communism is returning. Back then, Christmas was reduced to a national custom and gutted of its true content. What kind of Christmas is it when God is not a part of it?’ he said.
Prof. Ryba stated that it is God who is the essence of Christmas and asserted that we celebrate and meet each other during this time because God came to Earth to save mankind, yet he believes that many have forgotten this article of faith in the modern era.
‘This is very clear in the public space. Time and time again we hear that in many Western European cities, nativity scenes and Christmas trees are being thrown away. It even happens that the trees are completely separated from the context of Christmas,’ he said.
The professor gave the example of Warsaw, in which multi-religious or multicultural holiday greeting cards were produced which makes no reference to the spiritual aspect of Christmas. He explained that this is all part of a plan to push out religious aspects from public life, to marginalize religion, and completely privatise or commercialise it.
He also pointed to other countries of the West, such as Spain, which he said is rapidly moving away from the Church. Ryba said that while spending time in Madrid, he had extreme difficulty even finding information concerning a Sunday mass. As a contrast to Madrid, the professor recalls Lipinki municipality in southern Poland, whose council passed a unanimous bill to entrust the municipality to the patronage of the Virgin Mary.
‘Such actions are a reference to the powerful entrusting of the state, municipality and homes to Mary and Jesus Christ,’ he said.
Ryba encouraged Poles not to be ashamed of their faith in the context of public life. He pointed out that a cultural clash was happening on different levels of public life, not just marches, spectacles or legal solutions. ‘This concerns certain gestures which clearly show whose side a community chooses and how it understands public life and our culture,’ Ryba said.
The professor underlined that it should be the faithful who should be fighting for cherishing Polish traditions and Christian values. He believed that one of the best opportunities to do so was the proper experiencing of Christmas.
‘We should remember that God came to the world, which was redeemed through that and thanks to it, which is why we now celebrate Christmas,’ he concluded. Source
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