A Calendar Without Christmas
In December 1997, Cuban president Fidel Castro announced that Christmas would once again be a national holiday—for the first time since 1969. Castro intended the move as a gesture of goodwill in deference to Pope John Paul II’s scheduled visit to the island in January. Castro said he wanted to do everything possible to ensure that the visit would be historic.
Cuba officially became an atheist country in 1962, but celebration of Christmas continued until Castro decided it was interfering with the sugar harvest. He dropped Christmas from the calendar of holidays in 1969, when the government pushed for a record sugar harvest. When he reinstated Christmas as a holiday in 1997, Castro explained that the previous decision “didn’t have anything to do with our traditions, just our climate.”
Outward celebration of Christmas can be suppressed, but nobody can stop Christmas, because it’s already happened. God has already given us His unspeakable gift; the Messiah has already come and accomplished his purpose in spite of Satan’s efforts to thwart God’s plan. After Jesus’s birth, King Herod ordered all the boys two years old or younger near or in Bethlehem to be killed, but God had already warned Joseph to escape to Egypt. Later, in the wilderness, Satan tried to sidetrack Jesus from His mission, but Jesus resisted him with Scripture. And again, Satan prompted Judas to betray Jesus to death, but His crucifixion was already a part of God’s plan to offer forgiveness of sin to anyone who chooses to believe in Him.
Each year we see signs of hostility toward expressions of the true meaning of Christmas. Many places welcome symbols of other religious or secular holidays but not Christmas. Even if governments forbid outward expression of Christmas, they can never remove the most important event in history. After all, it’s being celebrated every day by those who have accepted God’s gift. You might succeed in taking Christmas off the calendar, but you can’t take it out of a believer’s heart.
***This material is adapted from On This Day: 365 Meditations on Holidays & Historical Events.
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.