I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. As a Christian it is usually guaranteed that I will at some point hear a sermon on the “true meaning of Christmas”.

I think the reason for this is that the real meaning of Christmas encompasses aspects of both religion and mainstream festivities. What I love about Christmas is that everything stops. Everyone has a day off. Everyone enjoys giving and receiving presents. Everyone shares with one another. It’s the time of year when it’s good to smile and say `Happy Christmas’ to the shop assistant. It’s the time of year when you can actually spend time with your family. It’s the time of “goodwill to all men”. People can share in that, whether they believe that Jesus, God’s son, was born on that day or not.

Over the Christmas period charities receive more money than during any other period throughout the year, while people are also more likely to volunteer. It promotes and encourages people to look after others, especially those in need. I think the story of Jesus is the impetus behind this. I believe that God sent his only son, who chose to live humbly, to become human, to serve others, and ultimately to die so that others could live. Jesus to me is the ultimate example of serving others, of teaching us how to love one another as ourselves.

The true meaning of Christmas is about learning to have compassion. It is about serving those who have less, at a time of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men.” Everyone, of any faith and none, can play a part in this.