Christmas Tidings of Great Joy
Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th? Is it because we have always done it that way? Why is there a Santa Claus if we are celebrating Jesus’ birth? Why have a Christmas tree? And what’s with the sleigh and reindeer? Do you ever wonder about those things?
Is the whole thing a celebration of pagan rituals captured by commercial interests in the last couple of centuries to generate revenue for greedy retailers? Sometimes I wonder about that one.
The truth is that we do not know the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Before you accuse me of blasphemy, I would ask you to show me in the Bible where it states that December 25th is the day Jesus was born. The early Christians did not even observe a celebration of Jesus’ birth. That practice did not start until a few centuries after His death. Many scholars believe the early church observed the date of Jesus’ death, and since they believed He died on the same day of the year as His conception they celebrated those together. The logical deduction follows that Jesus had to have been born somewhere close to the Winter Solstice.
It is an interesting topic to research. There are reasons for every tradition we celebrate in the Christmas season. Santa Claus is the evolution of the stories of Saint Nicholas who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey. He was a church bishop known for helping the poor. The decorated tree is a symbol of life and does have roots in a pagan festival of fertility. And those are just a couple of examples. For a good read, do some research!
Traditions are born, they evolve and become established and are passed from generation to generation. Many old traditions do have some connections to pagan feasts. When the early church was expanding, it was found to be easier to convert people by including some of their familiar pagan practices and “Christianizing” those practices.
Just don’t let all the commercial trappings of this season distract you from what Christmas is for us as Christians and Covenant Keepers. It is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Enjoy this season of celebration and thank God for sending us His Son.
The birth of Jesus is announced in Luke 1:26-33:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
These are truly tidings of great joy!