by Dr Charles Margerison
President of the Amazing People Club
Why is Christmas celebrated on the 25th of December? Well, the first recording of the event was in AD 336. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire was based in the town of York, UK about that time. He converted to the Christian religion and declared the 25th of December a holy day.
Mosaic of Emperor Constantine in the Hagia Sophia,Istanbul.
Now, that may sound a bit odd as it was in the middle of winter and as it was cold, there was not much to celebrate. However, we have more than made up for it in recent years, with much feasting.
We have Pope Julius 1st to thank for that. He made the 25th of December an official holy day of the Catholic Church. With the backing of the Emperor and the Pope, the day became a holiday as well as a religious day.
In the many years since, the tradition has been practised in many countries that have adopted Christian beliefs. Of course, there are various interpretations of such beliefs. Nevertheless, it can be said that the Ten Commandments have stood the test of time.
Therefore, it is interesting to look at amazing people who have, through their actions, shown what the commandments meant to them.
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan
Early in her life, Helen lost her sight and her hearing due to an illness. She lived in a world of silence and darkness, until a remarkable lady called Anne Sullivan arrived. She became the main carer for Helen and over a period of 49 years, she guided her. During those years, Helen developed her ability to understand and to communicate. She went on to become the leading advocate for blind and deaf people. Her example of making the best of one’s life and helping others is inspirational. Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan showed what the Ten Commandments meant in practice.
Early in life, Albert discovered that he had musical talent. He had the opportunity for a good education and could have lived a comfortable life as a concert performer and professor of music. He chose to give up that kind of life to go and live with lepers in Africa. He started a new career by qualifying as a doctor. His aim was to treat the ill and injured where there was no access to modern medicine. He went to Lambarene in Equatorial Africa and set up a small and makeshift hospital. For many years, he spent Christmas Day treating patients and trying to convert them to Christianity.
Having had the experience of seeing his father go to prison for not paying his debts, Charles had to work in a factory to support his family. He endured long hours in bad conditions. Around him in the streets of London, he became aware that there were many families who were poor. He realized that it was necessary to change the laws. And so it was that he began to write novels about the appalling conditions. One of them was called ‘A Christmas Carol’ in which Jacob Marley visits the mean and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge and transforms him. In the novel, which is still popular, Charles Dickens shows the importance of the Christian commandments associated with loving and helping others.
So, with all of the commercial aspects of Christmas, does it still inspire people? It is a time when presents are exchanged and family and friends meet. It is a time to reflect on some of the basic commandments of life, whether they be Christian or self-made. They are guidelines by which mankind in the western world has lived, to provide some order.
Whether you are a Christian believer or not, what is your opinion of this time of year?
Amazing People are great examples of individuals who have used their time on this earth well, to contribute to the betterment of the world we live in. There is much we can learn from them. Christmas is a time to reflect on our own lives and our own commandments and establish plans for a new year!