Gold at Christmas: Why is Gold Important in Religion?
Gold has always held close ties to religion, from the ancient religious cultures of antiquity through to the present day. Gold possesses a unique, universal appeal to major faiths all over the world.
Since gold is relatively rare, highly durable and immune to corrosion, the use of gold in religion imparts an immortality that other metals can’t offer. Thus, gold artefacts and decorative pieces in religious places of worship such as churches, mosques and temples are commonplace.
Gold in Christianity
In the Christianity, gold holds strong associations with Christmas. As the bible recounts, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and when news spread of the arrival of Christ, a group of three wise men (Magi) made the lengthy journey from east to west to celebrate. Along with them, they carried offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The gift of gold symbolised wealth and power, but according to religious scholars, it also hailed the important impact that this birth would have in the years to come.
Gold has been extensively used to adorn churches, cathedrals and chapels (including the gilded domes of the Eastern European Orthodox churches). Religious symbolism such as crosses, statues and chalices have been made, either entirely or party, using gold. It has also been used to represent halos and divine light in Middle age and Renaissance art
Gold in Judaism
In Judaism, the menorah used during Hanukkah and in Temple is often crafted in pure gold. As the Torah composes the portion of the Bible referred to as the Old Testament, many of the references to gold in the Jewish tradition are echoed in the bible.
Gold in Islam
Islam has long been deeply associated with gold. Since lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest (usury) is forbidden, a form of money such as gold – that doesn't involve interest – evolved into the Islamic gold dinar and silver dirham.
The gold dinar was first introduced in the seventh century. However, there has been an interest in reproducing this historic coin in Malaysia, which led to its release by the Kelantan and Perak states in 2010 and 2011.
In December 2016, the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions issued a Shari’ah Standard on Gold, outlining Shari’ah compliant forms of gold that can be traded or used in gold based investment opportunities – an important development in the relationship of gold and Islam.
Islamic architecture has often made use of gold in abundance as decoration for mosques and other religious buildings – the Grand Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a good example.
Gold in Hinduism
Gold is an integral part of the Hinduism, which is practised all over the world, but
is most prevalent in India. One of the most important Hindu creation myths depicts the deity Brahma as emerging from an golden egg to create the earth and all things on it. Gold is also closely associated with Lakshmi, the Hindu Godess of prosperity and fortune.
Gold is considered auspicious in Hinduism, which explains why it is so commonly gifted as an offering during religious ceremonies, weddings and other occasions such as births and the first day of Diwali, Dhanteras.
Gifting Gold During the Festive Period
Gold is rare and cherished; it's a gift that will always be remembered and preserved. With such close ties to Christianity and the Christmas story, as well as to many other major religions throughout the world, the gift of gold transcends mere monetary value and offers a broad and historical meaning.
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