What’s Christmas all about?

     Well that depends who you ask, doesn’t it? Some people say it’s about being around family. Some people say that it’s about an attitude of giving. Some of the younger people say that it is about getting presents. Some try to tap into the “spirit of Christmas”. Along with these, most people recognize it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
     The media is a big factor in our culture’s view of what Christmas is. Movies, music, books, and toys all influence what our perspective of Christmas is. Let’s look at the top 10 Christmas movies of all time and think about what it says about the meaning of Christmas:
10. A Christmas Carol- Be nice Scrooge; you are important to other people.
9. Miracle on 34th street- Just when we were sure that Santa did not exist, we thought “what if?”
8. Gremlins- Uh, how this get on the list?
7. Elf- my personal favorite, but admittedly nothing to do with Christmas amidst the laughter. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.”
6. The Bishop’s Wife
5. A Christmas Story- If you ask me, this has gotta be the most influential Christmas movie of our day. BB guns, tongue to the pole, dodging bullies, Ovaltine, a pink bunny outfit, and of course “You’ll shoot your eye out”. It gives you that down-to-earth, cozy-home innocent Christmas feeling.
4. 1941- Made in 1979?
3. Nightmare Before Christmas- Tim Burton’s twisted view of what Christmas is about.
2. Brazil (This list is from Forbes; I swear I’m not making this up.)
1. Die Hard-  I know, you all saw that one coming. Nothing says Merry Christmas like car chases and gun shoot outs.

     Even though I’m a little disappointed with this list of the most popular Christmas movies, it does help reveal what our interests are around Christmas time. None of these movies contain the message of the birth of Jesus. You would have a hard time finding anything about Jesus in them at all. I am NOT trying to say it’s always wrong to watch secular Christmas movies. Enjoy the movie to your heart’s content, but never let the message of the movie Trump the message of the Bible. Once a movie occupies the greater part of your heart then the actual, historical events of the birth of Jesus, that movie has taken an improper role in the life of the Christian. In other words, if you feel more of an emotional and spiritual connection while watching a secular Christmas movie then pondering the coming of Christ to earth, then that is a sign that the culture has too big of a grip on you. This seems to be due to a person giving themselves more to the things of this world than the things of the Spirit. “Worldly” doesn’t just mean that you desire the fancy toys. Worldly desires also deal with selfish motives and seeking fulfillment through self manipulation of your emotions. The Christian should never be in a place where blessings from God replace God himself.
     For the population that is not Christian I can understand if they would seek meaning in relatively meaningless films and stories. I would hope that they find meaning in the story of Jesus birth.

     Before I get into the magnitude of the Incarnation, I’d like to review the history of December 25th to determine whether it is appropriate to celebrate the holiday on this date.
     The roots of the December holiday are in a Roman pagan holiday called Saturnalia. Saturnalia was a week long holiday that ended on the 25th. The week was a time of rebellion and rioting. For this week the law was lifted and everybody could do whatever they wanted. Then, at the end of the week, on the 25th, they would murder an innocent person.
     In the early 300s AD in the Roman Empire, the ruler Constantine became a Christian and used his power to try to Christianize everything. Obviously a fallible ruler, Constantine decided to keep the dates of the pagan holidays and add in a Christian reason for the holiday. Thus the celebration of Jesus Christ birth became the new holiday on December 25th. Christianity was the state established religion, so people celebrated Christmas out of obligation.
     It is very unlikely that Jesus was actually born on December 25th. Some say October or May are more likely times. Whatever the case, a computer program called “Starry Night” shows something very interesting. On the computer program you can go to any point on the planet and see what the sky would have look like at any date in the past or future. As it turns out, 3 of the brightest “stars” overlap each other and form the brightest “star” (appearing as one star) in history. The triple star appeared to stand still to the south of Jerusalem over Bethlehem on December 24th and 25th (3 BC?) as they slowly changed directions. This “star” is what guided the wise men to where Jesus was laying. It is evidently very likely that the wise men brought their gifts to the baby Jesus on what is now Christmas day.
     Hopefully I’m not taking too much liberty with this next thought: the pagans, without knowing it, were serving as examples of Jesus’ birth and mission. (Pagans celebrated Saturnalia after the birth of Christ- Jesus was unique and did not steal from pagan tradition.) The reason the pagans would sacrifice an innocent person was in hopes to lift the dark presence of evil that surrounded them. Jesus, not only fulfilling Jewish prophecy, is even the fulfillment of these pagan desires. The rebellion would take place until the time that the innocent man was murdered. The rebellion was recognized for a week in Rome; the rebellion of the people of God had been ongoing. Our rebellion and bond with the presence of darkness and evil would have remained had not the truly innocent and perfect sacrifice and intercessor been put to death in our place.
     So December 25th started out as a brutal and sinful pagan holiday. It turned into a Christian holiday, celebrated the same day, but for a different purpose. Some of the symbolism has carried over from paganism. Some of the symbolism has a Christian message to it. So now I ask you, the reader, is it appropriate to celebrate Christmas during what was originally a pagan holiday? Has it been becoming a pagan holiday again? What are the appropriate and inappropriate ways to celebrate Christmas?


One thought on “Christmas

  1. Dear Sir,
    First off before I type my response I would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.
    Your blog was very enjoyable and informative I was unaware of the human sacrifice history of it until my communications with you on this matter.

    My response is mainly about what is appropriate and inappropriate ways to celebrate in my view for my home.

    I have owned a couple of books dealing with origins and symbolisms of Christmas and or christian holidays. I read them to attempt to fully understand the practices of Christmas after i was born again.

    Before I ever got saved I refused to say Santa was real to kids it bothered me the lengths people would go to get others to believe a lie.

    As a Christian why would I celebrate a holiday that seemed to be full of lies and deceptions? or as it seemed to me.

    So I read about so many symbols and what they represent and supposed origins of practices associated with celebrating Christmas it was touching. Some how everything a person associates with Christmas was made to represent some part of Christianity. Wow, I never knew! But why did my fellow Christians not know what i was reading I must share these amazing discoveries. And with a zeal I did they hadn’t a clue either.We got all happy over the new found information we learned.

    Some of the things I would do would include making sure I had apples on my Christmas tree to represent how the catholic church would do reenactments of the garden of Eden supposedly the origins of Christmas tree starts from the church masses held in the language of Latin not the language of the common folk. As the history is told to make the common people understand they would hang apples in a tree and act out the story of the garden when Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.

    So i would sit down with my family and talk of this history and then tie in because of the sin of the first Adam we needed a Savior Jesus who would come to take away the sins of the world for all those who would repent and believe in Him. Then I would discuss the birth and death of Jesus. I would do all kinds of things I read the quote in quote history slash meaning on trying to direct all this symbolism solely to Christ.

    But the last few years having a Christmas tree has bothered me. I don’t flip on others or look down on them for it. But for me it just seems like a big tall idol standing in my home that everyone adores and stands looks at even singing songs such as “OH Christmas Tree” It really seems odd to me that it even is used to some how be connected to Jesus. I like the idea of having a nativity set up on display that members of the family can touch and play with more because that is what we are supposedly celebrating at Christmas its the coming of a King who came to take the sins of the world away. Why not put presents under the greatest gift God gave as a symbol to remember what God did when He sent His son for all man kind?

    Then I recently came across Jeremiah 10:1-10 I am not saying it is referring
    to a Christmas tree but it sure does bring that image to me as i read those verses among a few other images pop in my head as well as it describes idol worship involving trees. Reading that section of scripture sort of messes with my head a bit.

    Now just because Christmas trees have currently been making me uneasy last few years it doesn’t mean I am out with a stake after my brethren who have them or I think any different about them. For me it is an issue with me and my conscience. I think about in 1 Corinthians chapter 8 how some were okay eating food sacrificed to idols and that was cool but for some eating the meat being weak it defiled their conscience. For me it feels like an idol worship object in the home but for others it does not. It is not a stumbling block for them so it appears to be fine in their household. If they have a tree in their home it doesn’t effect me. Going to someones home with a decorated Christmas tree doesn’t bother me it is just another pretty object in their home. For me personally it is a hard mental thing to comprehend being okay to have sitting in my home.

    I think about not lifting one day above another and many times it seems we (the general Population) really worship and exalt the day Christmas is celebrated and not really reflect what the day was set apart for. Just as one might say the sabbath was set aside to rest and worship the LORD. Are we doing what we should for what the day Christmas was set aside for? or Are we really worshiping the day and all the worldly things it contains?

    Supposedly the gifts come into play because of the wise men bringing gifts. But that just seems strange how did that get morphed from epiphany which I think is in January when you leave straw in shoes for the wise men’s camels so they will leave you a gift as well. and Saint Nick’s true holiday is December 6th if my memory serves me right. which also deals with giving of gifts.

    I am not truly sure about the histories and traditions. They tend to morph into one another and finding truth can be difficult. I once read a series of very many pages going in depth of how saint Nick became what we know as Santa Claus today. From a devout Christian man from the land Turkey in the middle east to a fat man with magical powers who lives in the North pole. Sure seems like the game of telephone to me in how history was transformed into a crazy off the wall legend many do everything they can to deceive small children into believing a lie and not even knowing the truth of who the original dude was.I think we just blindly do stuff without ever asking the question why am I doing this?

    I some how wonder if those books were biased smoothing certain things over to have the trusting and ignorant reader compromise. The symbols they talk of are very moving but if I tell you a indepth emotionally moving story of how my vacume cleaner symbolizes certain things with the LORD. Would you decorate your home with a bunch of vacumes and line them up in your front yard?

    I find it disturbing to just go with the flow because that is the way it is always done not questioning why we do something. I think if we are to take part in something that the main stream population is doing we should truly understand what we are engaging in and why we are doing it. I think about this subject matter almost each year my thoughts change as each Christmas season comes and goes but certain things in my thought pattern does not change. “Am I honoring God by the way I am celebrating Christmas?”

    I still celebrate Christmas with my darling family But do not practice some things the common person would because of my convictions. It is a fun day to set aside to do fun activities directed towards drawing nearer to God and His truth. I love the LORD and want my beloved darlings to wake up and go to sleep remembering the greatest gift of all.

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