Christmas in Montreal began immediately after Halloween (literally November 1). The shops had Christmas decorations for sale, everything went for sale in the name of Christmas and the local government began decorating the streets with candy sticks and Christmas bells. As the days went by, it was Christmas trees, and Santa clauses, and you get the idea if you have watched enough Hollywood movies.
I was confronted time-and-time again with “happy holidays” greetings that some how lacked the charm of “merry Christmas and a happy new year.” (not that this is ‘more’ spiritual).
And yes, it snowed. And while the charm of a white Christmas was lost to the countless commuters complaining about the cold and the snow, it was special to see the Christmas trees lined up with actual snow and not “white” cotton! But I still couldn’t figure out how this glorified “white” Christmas could better help me (or anyone) experience the “true meaning” of Christmas.
So I at last know (first hand), why (and how) the “season” is such a big deal in western countries, though it is sad to see it (sometimes) violently stripped off of any of its religious meaning. In fact, in Montreal there was a huge political storm (just before Christmas) when some residents complained about the public “Christmas” tree in the city and the new elected Minister defended the tree by saying that there was nothing “religious about it,” and that he believed in the holiday season it represented! (whatever)
For what it’s worth, I know Christmas does not recall the actual birth of Jesus, but is actually an adaptation of a non-Christian festival (in those days called pagan) and adapted by the all-powerful church to make it more palatable for the people. So perhaps we’re on the verge of another cultural take-over… and what would we lose… and who would lose?