Recruitment and Communications Services
Telephone: 613-236-1393
1-800 637-6859
Ext. 2344
Quick Links

(Re)Discovering the meaning of Christmas: An interview with Yvan Mathieu

There are some traditions that we do somewhat on auto-pilot. They can leave our hearts empty — and our wallets, too! As Christmas approaches, we interviewed Yvan Mathieu, outgoing dean of the Faculty of Theology, to demystify this feast. Before completing his deanship, Fr. Mathieu helps us to explore Christmas from different angles and from beyond a Christian perspective.

Feast of light

The winter solstice, which preceded Christian faith and in which Christmas has its origins, emphasizes the triumph of light over darkness. Why did the first Christians choose to set the birth of Christ at this key moment for ancient times? Fr. Mathieu explains: “From a practical point of view, it was the only time of year when Christians did not risk being attacked by their persecutors. Of course, we don’t know the exact date of Jesus’ birth, and no one sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus on December 25!”

Feast of remembering

But besides being the “birthday” of Jesus of Nazareth, what does Christmas mean for Christians today? “For us, this feast is the ideal moment to remember, that is, to make present the coming of the Lord, source of light, to save us from the darkness of death,” says Fr. Mathieu. “What happens in the northern hemisphere with the winter solstice powerfully illustrates what Christ means for us as Christians.”

Feast of love

During this era that is often called “post-Christian,” many people celebrate Christmas without following a particular faith. Is that a contradiction? If the Church reinvented a pre-Christian feast to give it new meaning, is it possible to reinterpret Christmas from an areligious or outright agnostic perspective? “I think that what brings us all together at Christmas is our deep belief that love is stronger than anything. Christians ascribe this belief to God, but of course, each person can adapt it as they see fit.”

For Fr. Mathieu, the gift of self to others is an excellent way to be good to yourself and to remember that human goodness outweighs our greatest flaws.

Whatever our beliefs, religious or otherwise, Christmas remains for most of us a time for pausing, which lends itself to reflection. During the holidays this year, take Yvan Mathieu’s advice: find a personal meaning for this tradition and share with others.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Bookmark and Share

Other Links