Today most of the world thinks of Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ. It hasn’t always been like that. Until several hundred years after the birth of Christ, it was the winter solstice that was being celebrated. Winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year and occurs December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. The further north you go, the longer that longest night becomes.

Originally the early Christians were against this festival, but it was so popular that rather than trying to get rid of it they transformed it into a Christian holiday, and let the last day of the Roman version of the festival, December 25, signify the birthday of Baby Jesus.

But why? What inspired the early Christians to associate this particular celebration of the darkest hour with the birth of Jesus Christ? What kind of message is there in the Winter solstice celebration that resonated with the early Christians? In short, what is the meaning of Christmas?

Winter solstice was not a celebration of darkness, but of the end of march towards darkness. Winter solstice is the time that the trend reverses towards longer and brighter days, towards summer and a fresh new start. As such, Winter Solstice represents hope. Hope is precisely the idea that even though you are immersed in darkness and things are looking bad, you can catch a glimpse of better days ahead. To use an old metaphor: hope is seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Still dark, but with the promise of a brighter future ahead.

Thus, the central idea from Winter solstice celebration which has been passed on to Christmas is a message of hope, a hope for a better future and a better world.

But the world has already become much better for billions of people due to the advent of capitalism. Billions of people have lifted themselves out of poverty and into a safer and better life. Every single day millions take that step out of poverty. This brings hope for the future, especially for those living in abject poverty.

Yet for many people in the West who have escaped poverty a long time ago and lost a sense of progress and improvement sentiments have turned from hope to hate. Yes, there are people in the West who are so rich and spoiled that they have lost the ability to appreciate the immense improvements in living standards they have enjoyed, and so they instead turn to hatred of capitalism and the Western philosophy that brought it about.

Sadly this means that there are now very rich people in the West who are trying their very best to destroy the opportunity for a better life for the billions still living in poverty. Yet, there is still hope that they will fail to destroy all that has been achieved.