Having never been to Europe, I had no idea what Christmas would be like here. The expectations in K-land were very low. You would see the occasional Merry Christmas sign or Santa Clause sticker, but it was definitely not a part of their culture. I remember waking up on Christmas day and looking out over our university campus to see it buzzing with people. At first I was refreshed, thinking that these students were excited for Christmas. Then I realized that they were heading to class, because Christmas meant very little to them. It was just another day.
So as you can imagine, Christmas is quite different in Germany where we have been inundated with it. From the Christmas markets in every town to the lights and decorations lining the streets, it felt like we had never left America, BUT there was still something missing. The advertisements certainly reflected the consumerism of Christmas with them directed at making you think that you needed that overpriced and unnecessary new gadget. The people certainly reflected Christmas as they were everywhere, lugging around their recently purchased gifts and packages. However, it still had the feeling of just being another day.
Maybe these Christmas traditions have replaced the meaning of Christmas or maybe the commercialization of Christmas would be a more accurate sentiment. In a land flourishing with Christian history, it feels like those beliefs have been placed on a shelf and filed in the “not for us” category. Not all that much different from America where baby Jesus is almost a mockery, Christmas has become a “holiday,” and those darn red Starbucks cups!
Whether we are in a land that celebrates Christmas or ignores the day completely, we are still reminded that most people in this world just don’t get Christmas, either in their ignorance, their self-centeredness, or their lack of belief.