Irish priest urges Christians to 'stop saying Christmas' as it's lost its meaning

(Photo: REUTERS / Stringer)Owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles wearing Santa Claus costumes ride along a street to give presents to elders at a nursing home during a promotional event celebrating Christmas in Guangzhou, Guangdong province December 24, 2014. Christmas is not a traditional festival in officially atheist China but is growing in popularity, especially in more metropolitan areas where young people go out to celebrate, give gifts and decorate their homes.

It's already that time of the year when streets light up and shops are starting hard sales of gifts that should be given to celebrate the birth of Jesus, traditionally evoking many Christians to say, "put Christ back into Christmas."

But a priest in Northern Ireland is saying Christians should stop using the word Christmas because it has been hijacked by "Santa and reindeer," the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Father Desmond O'Donnell, who has a congregation in Cleenish Parish near Enniskillen, has urged Christians, no matter the denomination, to accept that the term 'Christmas' had been shorn of any sacred meaning.

"We've lost Christmas, just like we lost Easter, and should abandon the word completely," he argued.

"We need to let it go, it's already been hijacked and we just need to recognise and accept that."

O'Donnell, a member of the Catholic Oblate order, said in his interview he is not a Scrooge, and does not wish to deny non-believers their festive celebrations.

"I am not seeking to take anything away from anyone, I am simply asking that space be preserved for believers for whom Christmas has nothing to do with Santa and Reindeer," he noted.

"My religious experience of true Christmas, like so many others, is very deep and real - like the air I breathe.

"But non-believers deserve and need their celebration too, it's an essential human dynamic and we all need that in the toughness of life."

O'Donnell is a biblical scholar and psychologist, he even quoted from the Psalms to argue that a little bit of wine makes the heart rejoice.

"I'm all for Christians choosing to celebrate Christmas by going out for meals and enjoying a glass of wine, but the commercialisation of anything is never good," he said.

He said that, "secularisation and modern life will continue to launder the Church.

"It will start to institutionally break down, I've already seen it happening around the world in Malta, Poland and Uruguay, and it's starting to happen in Ireland.

"It's like watching the same movie over and over again - the Protestant Churches are battling too."

The priest, who is based in Dublin, added: "For many people God is just a word representing someone to blame in their calamity or a crutch to lean on in a time of distress, and the reality is that 'Christmas' no longer means Christmas."

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