The one thing about Christmas in Sweden that is still a bit strange to me is the absolute lack of nativity scenes you see displayed around town. It is very hard to even find a card with a Christian theme. Stockholm has done a very good job of keeping Christ out of Christmas. But then again, in Swedish, that little ditty doesn't work...the word for Christmas is Jul. The word for Christ is Kristi so it's not entirely fair to say that they've taken the Christ out of Christmas. Even so, it makes me quite sad to see the total void of religious symbols around town. I did finally see two places today displaying Nativity scenes. One was a window at the Covenant Church headquarter and the other was a flower shop. The flower shop wasn't so much displaying the nativity as it was selling the various parts for 50% off.
The irony is that many people will have an advent candle holder with the four candles and they know to light them on the Sundays on advent. And yet, few understand the significance or that this tradition has Christian roots. Many put up stars in their windows, but again, I seriously doubt that most are reflecting the Star of Bethlehem.
I know that not everyone who celebrates Christmas does so remembering the birth of Christ. And I'm OK with that. I appreciate that for many who do not celebrate the religious significance of Christmas are still interested in peace on earth, good will to all. But I do believe that for those of us who find significance in the birth of Christ, it's especially important that we find ways to keep that central. Not in an overbearing manner but in a way that makes clear to others that the Christ of Christmas shows up in our homes amongst our Christmas decorations and celebrations and most obviously in the way in which we live.