I was born during the full development of the communist regime in Romania. And from the early years of preschool the communist system worked methodically and dictatorially to erase any form of wonder and worship of the Creator. The Marxist atheism was the ideology de jour. Christian leaders were thrown in jails and anything related to Christianity was being erased. Churches were persecuted and isolated, buildings demolished and Christians were slandered and oppressed. We were prevented to gather publicly. Christmas became the Winter holiday, Santa became Snowman and the beautiful carols were replaced with absurd patriotic songs in awe of communism and its supreme leader.
In a way, I feel that here in United States we are repeating that dark and scary nightmare before our eyes.
In spite of the persecution and hardship Christians did not give up on Christmas and especially on Christ.
In fact, we took one of the ancient Christmas Romanian traditions, that is caroling on Christmas Eve, and
transformed it into an evangelization opportunity and also, a form of protest. Actually, Christmas
became the only opportunity of public evangelization in communist Romania. Therefore, we were
making the Christmas the most important event. We were preparing special songs and from the little we
had we were taking gifts to people that lacked everything. Christmas was a gospel invasion season. Groups of Christians, especially young ones, were singing carols and sharing the gospel in public
markets, in hospitals, on trains, buses and subways. In most cities, the communist regime demolished
houses and built ugly concrete building for public housing where families were living in dire conditions,
many times in dark without power and hot water for showering.
At Christmas, large choirs of Christians were going caroling in these places sharing the warmth and love of Christ. We were also taking gifts to their children. Hundreds and thousands of people were receiving Christ across the nation during the Christmas season. Even though the tradition was to carol on Christmas Eve, we subverted that, by doing it the next few nights and many times in the days leading to the holiday.
This Christmas tradition also became a form of protest against a tyrannical and godless system. However
hard they tried to stop this, communists were not able to. In every small village and every large town
thousands and thousands of Christians were refusing to stand down and they pledged their allegiance to
a higher authority than the supreme leader, to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus.
And it so fitting that the Communist regime fell in Romania in 1989 during the Christmas season. It all started at a church with hundreds of Christians caroling and singing songs to the King. It was the spark
that ignited a fire that burned down and melted the edifice of one of the most tyrannical regimes in
history. As Christ was lifted up, Communism was crushingly coming down. It all started with a Christmas
Now back in United States, our community still practices this ancient tradition. I am happy to see young
people preparing and then singing carols in public places, in hospitals, on trains, assisted living facilities
and even prisons. Year after year hundreds of young Americans of Romanian descent take the love of
Christ thorough caroling and service to the “least of these” across Chicagoland.
It is not just a way to have fun on Christmas eve, but it is a fun way for the young generation to proclaim the gospel and, perhaps to protest the culture which is crossing out Christ from Christmas.
Pastor Florin Cimpean