Why Do We Celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ?
The celebrating of the birth of Jesus on 25th December is quite a strange custom and was it is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible that Jesus ever celebrated His birthday, nor did God command us to celebrate the day of Jesus' birth. The date of His birth is not known for sure, however it is clear from the scriptures that it was not in December. Shepherds did not spend the chilly December nights on the hills in that part of the world, they took their sheep inside to shelter overnight and out again in the morning.
When was Jesus Born?
Was it on Christmas Day?
The 25th December was a date picked by the Catholic church to appease the pagans who they were trying to convert, but who were not willing to give up their traditional holidays and festivals. Saturnalia was one of the popular Roman pagan festivals of celebration, drunkeness and making merry which ran from the 17th to the 24th of December. Gifts were exchanged on the 23rd and 24th. On the 25th December they would celebrate "The Birth of The Unconquerable Sun."
It was decided that this would be a day for celebrating the birth of Jesus instead. Many of the pagan traditions such as decorating the house with trees and greenery were banned at this time, but they have crept back into our Christmas traditions.
We celebrate Christmas because it is a wonderful celebration, and a great opportunity to witness to others and to retell and celebrate the marvelous story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
How Did Santa Get Into Christmas?
There was a man named Saint Nicholas who was a priest and lived in Asia Minor, (Turkey), during the fourth century A.D., ("A.D." is a Latin abbreviation for the words, "anno Domini" which means, "in
the year of our Lord" or "since Christ was born."). According to legend, he furnished dowries for three poor girls whos fathers could not afford to pay them. St. Nicholas would throw sacks of coins into the girls bedrooms during the night. This is how the custom of night time visits from St. Nicholas originated.
Another story says that St. Nicholas wanted to give money to the poor without them knowing who had done it, so he climbed on to the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. A little girl had earlier placed a stocking near the fire to dry and the purse full of money fell into it. From then on children have hung stockings by the fire in the hope that St. Nicholas will fill them, and somehow he always seems to manage it!
And another story of how the legend of Santa Clausbegan says that the modern Santa finds his origin in a young pastor named Nicholas. His parents died when he was still a boy, leaving him a fortune. He loved the Lord and cared deeply for those in need. Not wanting to receive any glory himself, he went secretly, during the night, to the homes of poor families. There he left gifts and money because of his love for Christ.
In some countries children receive gifts on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) instead of on Christmas. Why not share the spirit of St. Nicholas and give gifts to a family that is less fortunate than you. You could even bake some cookies or share a small gift with an older person in your neighborhood, or someone who does not have a family to spend Christmas time with.
Read more stories about Santa by clicking here!
More explainations of traditions
Yuletide and Yule Logs
The tradition of burning a yule log on the fire for twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany comes from the custom of offering a sacrifice on each of the twelve days to the Scandinavian pagan fertility god Jul or Jule.
The Christmas Tree
Bringing an evergreen tree into the house is another pagan tradition relating to the worship of evergreen plants as symbols of fertility, life and reproduction. The pagans decorated their trees with fruit, and placed other foods underneath it as offerings to the tree. The Christmas Tree is to be an evergreen with it's boughs stretched toward heaven, reminding us of the everlasting life that Christ came to bring sinners. The candles or lights on the tree remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. This surely is what Martin Luther envisioned back in 1535 when he cut and decorated the first Christmas tree for his children. Prince Albert carried the Christmas tree custom from Germany to Windsor Castle in 1841. Ten years later, a Cleveland minister was accused of sacrilege and idolatry when he put up the first American tree. But a young child saw it right. "Mother", he whispered, "the pastor's got a tree from heaven!"
The Holly Leaf
The holly leaves and berries from the holly bush are widely used in holiday decorations. The sharp pointy edges of the holly leaf remind us of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore upon his brow. The red berries remind us of the blood that Jesus shed.
The tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe began with a Scandinavian goddess called Frigga. Frigga's son Balder was shot with an arrow made of mistletoe. While Frigga's friends conjured up powers to save the boy, his mother cried tears that became the white berries on the mistletoe. Frigga's friends succeeded in saving Balder's life. Frigga ordered that the mistletoe should never again be used to harm others. Instead, she made it a symbol of love by kissing everyone who passed under it.
A combination of the Penny Post postal service in 1840 and the industrialization of the printing industry led to the popularity of sending Christmas cards. Later, when cards in unsealed envelopes could be posted for half a penny the craze really caught on. Today people still send beautiful christmas cards with inspirational messages and blessings to their friends and neighbors.
Not all songs that we sing at Christmas time are carols. Most songs sung in church or by church choirs are actually hymns. Centuries ago, a carol was a group dance accompanied by a joyful song. Gradually it came to mean the song itself. A carol became a happy melody that anyone could sing. Caroling still means singing songs of joy but more than that it means singing the beautiful songs about the most joyous news that men have ever heard.
The day after Christmas Day is known as Boxing Day. This has it's origins not as some people think in the giving of presents, Christmas Boxes on that day, but from a custom dating back to the Middle Ages, when churches would open their "alms" boxes and share out the donated money among the poor of the parish.
Show your thankfulness to the Lord by sharing
your bounty with someone less fortunate!
Donate gifts, toys, canned and
non-perishable items to your local shelters.
When you give something make sure it is something you like
and would enjoy if you were receiving it.
Read a story called"The Big Wheel" about the gift of receiving
3 Touching stories about