Christmas is the most traditionally celebrated festival in Brazil – a country considered to possess the second largest Christian population in the world. However, the majority of the Brazilian population does not know the true meaning of Christmas, according to Christian leaders and the secular media.
An article published by the Brazilian publication Ribeirão Preto claims that a huge portion of people in Brazil do not even know the origins and history of Christmas.
Historical documentation from the Roman Empire shows that the festival was already part of the culture of the population who lived under the Roman rule in the year 336 AD, Ribeirão Preto reported.
The date is related to a pagan festival that celebrates the winter solstice on Dec. 22 in the northern hemisphere. Symbolically, this date was related to the passage through life and death, birth and rebirth that the ancient people used to commemorate.
Pastors and Christian leaders, however, now focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas which is related to the birth of Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes through Him.
However, Brazilian Pastor Ciro Sanchez Zibordi points out that Christmas for many in Brazil is also related to Santa Claus, Christmas trees and delicious food. In addition, he revealed that many people see God as a type of Santa Claus, whom they expect to receive benefits from.
Zibordi, however, has attempted to remind Christians in Brazil about the importance of “giving” themselves, and he is using the story of the Magi who went from the East to Jerusalem to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.
He explains the Biblical account of how the Wise men offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus: “They didn’t want to worship the stars. They didn’t want to worship the mother of Jesus. They wanted to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords!”
The pastor urges Christians not to expect to receive something this year, but instead to give to “our Lord and Savior,” and to question themselves: “What will I give to the Lord for all the benefits that He has given?”
For Rubens Muzio, researcher at Serving Pastors and Leaders (Sepal), the message of Christmas is not centered on the “boy who was born in Bethlehem,” but on the “lamb who died on a cross in Jerusalem.”
“The Lamb, Jesus, substituted for us and died for all of us. Since we are all sinners, the law condemns us to death under a divine course. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and He endured the punishment that we deserve,” said Muzio.
Christmas, states the researcher, is remembering about “the payment of our sins so that He could forgive the sinners without compromising His own holy standard.”
He is urging Christians this year to rethink and ask themselves whether they truly know what Christmas represents, and to remember that Jesus is their savior who fully ensures their lives here and after death.