It’s that time of year again when most people take a detour from the daily grind and celebrate the season. Not everyone does so in the same way. Some travel, others may go on a wild shopping spree, while many take part in religious activities. Some see Christmas as a time when Santa Claus delivers presents to children around the world. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. Jews celebrate Hanukkah (feast of dedication) commemorating the rededication of the second Jewish temple around 167 BCE.
There are many pagan (nature-worshiping) traditions associated with the season of Christmas. These include the Christmas tree, carols, Christmas cards, and stockings, giving gifts even Christmas cookies. The use of greenery, mistletoe, and Santa Claus are also pagan traditions. Other celebrations taking place during this same time of year were the Roman festival of Saturnalia and the beginning of the winter solstice.
Considering the abundance of anti-Christian activities taking place in December, one might wonder why it was chosen as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Since there is nothing in scripture that gives the birth date of Christ, surely some other time would have been better suited. Over the years as well as in our day, there are Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas for this reason.
I love the Christmas season. It is a time when most people turn their thoughts to making others happy by showing their love and appreciation. Regardless of who chose them, the decorations are beautiful. Probably the most common decoration is the use of lights. Judaism, the religion of Christianity’s roots, celebrates this time with a festival of lights. The lights remind me that Christ is the light of the world. Red and green splash across store windows, street lights, doorways, inside and outside homes just about everywhere you look. Just the sight is exciting. The red reminds me that Jesus shed His blood for the sins of the world and the green speaks to everlasting life promised for those who follow Him.
It is unfortunate the idea of giving gifts has become so commercialized for it commemorates the greatest gift ever given – our Savior. Honestly, the value in the gift is found in the attitude of the heart, not the monetary value. This genuinely beautiful idea can be distorted due to jealousy, envy, selfishness, and greed. As a result, many dread the Christmas season. Instead of coming together in love and celebrating the reason for the season, many families are divided allowing the lusts of the flesh to dominate their attitudes.
Another tradition that has morphed into something disdainful to many is the idea of a generous individual who travels the world to bring the joy of the season to children everywhere. He has been called a lot of things over the centuries, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, to mention a few. In America today he is most commonly known as Santa Claus.
Different cultures and various countries over the centuries have ascribed their ideas as to how this Christmas visitor looked and behaved. Today he is pictured as plump and jolly, wearing a red suit trimmed with white fur and black boots. On his head, a red hat decorated in white and his beard long and white also. Down through the ages others have worn long robes and hats with the appearance of greenery growing on top.
This mystical creature has been a source of controversy over the years, especially in the religious realm. However, most have continued to acknowledge this Christmas tradition. There is much about the story of Santa that can be used in a negative sense. However, I believe it can also be used to teach children about the heart of the season. Love, generosity, unselfishness, and how attitude and behavior can affect the experiences you have in life. Everything God made is good; it is the work of Satan that defames and distorts.
My fondest memory of childhood is sitting on my father’s lap in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve. Like all children, I wanted to stay up but was afraid if I did there would be nothing under the tree the next morning. Everyone must respond to the dictates of their conscience in everything they embrace including Christmas. However, it is sad to allow the manipulation of Satan to steal the joy, beauty and real reason for this season of celebration.