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    • Christmas Traditions

      The history behind Christmas traditions

      Christmas is truly “a wonderful time of the year” as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Before we look at any of the origins and customs that we practice, we need to realize the true meaning of Christmas, found in Luke Chapter 2, verses 10-11:

      "But the angel reassured (the shepherds). 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David'" Luke 2:10-11

      As we look into the various traditions and customs celebrated at Christmas, let us never forget what an incredible story foretold for each one of us that brings us “great joy” that our Savior has been born!

      The Date – December 25

      The original celebration of December 25th was most likely first rooted in pagan festivals by ancient Romans. To celebrate the end of the harvest season, many Romans in northern Europe prepared festive meals, sang songs and gave gifts to one another. These traditions carried into the end of the fourth century A.D., when Christianity would then become the official religion for the Romans.

      Saint Nicholas

      The “story of St. Nick” is based on the story of an orphan, who’s parents passed away from an epidemic in the fourth century A.D. Saint Nicholas received a large inheritance from his parents and became known for his generosity, always giving what he had to help the needy. He would go onto become a bishop when he was 17 years old, and would later be jailed amidst the persecution Christian bishops faced for not sacrificing to pagan Roman gods. Saint Nicholas would eventually be freed during Constantine’s conquest ten years later.

      The Nativity

      During the 15th and 16th centuries, the birth of Jesus was portrayed by numerous artists in what we call “The Nativity Scene” today.

      Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

      Rudolf was originally based on a story created by a staff writer for Montgomery Ward in 1939. It paralleled the story of The Ugly Duckling and turned a genetically obscure red nose into a navigational tool used on foggy nights.

      Christmas Trees

      The first “Christmas Tree,” as we know it, originates with Prince Albert in the mid 1800s. Albert provided and decorated a pine tree at Windsor Castle in 1841, but shared his love of the tree by delivering Christmas trees to school children and army barracks.

      Tinsel

      The German tradition of putting tinsel on Christmas trees first began by using beaten silver strips. It is based on a tale of a poor woman who’s tree was filled with spider webs, and the Christ child was so upset by the webs that He transformed them into strands of silver.

      Mistletoe

      Mistletoe was first a symbol of peace and reconciliation, marked by its ability to bear fruit in the winter and avoid touching the ground by attaching itself to other trees. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe was a pagan Roman tradition that was eventually banned by the church due to its risqué connotations and replaced with holly wreaths representative of Christ’s crown of thorns.

      Christmas Cards

      Sir Henry Cole, a British businessman began printing and selling Christmas cards in 1843. The postage for the cards was one penny when the cards were first created, and the price dropped in the 1870s to a half-penny, creating a flurry of traffic for the British Post Office.

      If you have other questions about Christmas traditions or would like someone to pray with you, please contact us.

      Christmas Traditions
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