Summary: What comes to your mind when I said the word, “Christmas”? Christmas trees, presents, lights, candles, food, parties, snow, decorations, the star, angels, Santa Claus…wow! There are about a zillion symbols we have for Christmas, aren’t there? What do they
If everyone would take a moment and close their eyes…I am going to say a word and I want you to tell me what you picture when I say it. Ready?
What came to your mind when I said the word, “Christmas”? Christmas trees, presents, lights, candles, food, parties, snow, decorations, the star, angels, Santa Claus…wow! There are about a zillion symbols we have for Christmas, aren’t there? What I find interesting is that, in this group of believers, the one symbol that didn’t seem to come to mind until very late was The Nativity. Hmm…we’ll talk about this in depth later.
For the next little while, we are going to look at the celebration that we call Christmas – where it came from, where the symbols we use come from, what they mean, and things of that nature. I hope that you will find it insightful and enlightening, and that you will gain a deeper appreciation of the birth of Christ in the process.
From November onwards, it is impossible to forget that Christmas is coming. Colored lights decorate city streets and shops, shiny decorations and artificial snow will adorn shopping displays and store windows, and Christmas trees – real or artificial – will be decorated with lights and Christmas ornaments.
Pictures of Santa Claus begin to appear and television advertising begins to include elves and reindeer.
Shopping centers become busier and busier as December approaches and stores begin staying open until very late. Christmas carols will be played on PA systems everywhere, and radio stations will devote the bulk of their music programming to Christmas-oriented songs. Thanksgiving comes and the very next day, now known as “Black Friday”, begins a shopping frenzy that overtakes millions.
By the middle of December, most homes will be decorated for Christmas with Christmas trees festooned with a myriad of bulbs and ornaments and decorations and strands of colored lights. The rest of the house may very well be decorated as well, and many, many homes will have outside colored lights and sophisticated yard decorations, too.
A good number of businesses will hold a short Christmas party for their employees a week or so before Christmas. These will be attended with lots of food and not a little drink in many cases. Work will be pretty much out of the question for the rest of the day.
We are entering that time of the year when we become surrounded with the trappings and symbols of Christmas. For many, this is their favorite time of year. The reasons for it being their favorite holiday are as varied as there are people around the world that celebrate Christmas each year. For some, Christmas is the time of year that depresses them the most or that they despise the most. Wherever we stand, and for whatever reasons, Christmas has a significant place in American society.
In the majority of American homes, Christian and non-Christian alike, you will find a Christmas tree with presents underneath. Why do we do this? Where did this ritual come from? What does it mean? What is the significance of all of the different accoutrements and paraphernalia that surround the celebration of Christmas? Some believe that this celebration is pagan and evil while others believe the opposite: where should we as Christians stand on the matter?