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Circling the Square

Feliz Christmas, Happy Navidad

Posted by Bill Lovell on

The Spanish and English languages each have interesting ways of describing the annual celebration of Jesus Christ's birth. English speakers traditionally call it Christmas, while Spanish speakers traditionally call it Navidad. Both terms communicate something very important about the meaning and significance of this special holiday! 

The English word Christmas is a combination of Christ and mass, a very old word for Holy Communion. Because of Christ's birth as God's only-begotten son—God in human flesh—and because of his atoning sacrifice on the cross (which Holy Communion signifies), then you and I are united to one another as we are united to him. It was a wonderful blessing to gather on Christmas Eve this year to celebrate our union with and in the Lord. 

The Spanish word Navidad means Nativity, or birth. Traditional Hispanic culture is so steeped in Christianity that Hispanics have long referred to Jesus' birth simply as The Nativity, The Birth. That's because Jesus' birth is unique and utterly defining. In fact, Jesus' birth (re-)defines life itself, which means he is not only the reason for the season; he is the reason for everything! 

In America, we tend to wish people a Merry Christmas. (Interestingly it's more often Happy Christmas in the UK and Australia.) In Hispanic societies, people usually say Feliz Navidad, which just means Happy Nativity. Today in Texas, these two cultures live side by side, as we have for many generations, usually quite happily and with many bonds of friendship.

(Interesting side-bar: Texas was actually given its name by old Spanish missionaries who borrowed the Caddo Indian word Taysha, which means friend. I love that the patriotic Lone Star State is also the multi-cultural Friendship State. May it always be so!) 

I am hoping that in 2019 Christ Church Carrollton will take the opportunity to be even more intentionally missional in reaching out to our Spanish-speaking friends and neighbors. We have much to share and much to learn. So, dearest friends/queridos amigos, with 2019 just ahead, let me be the first to wish you Feliz Christmas and Happy Navidad!