Traditional Christmas Symbols and Their Meanings

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Many of the symbols associated with Christmas are derived from the traditional pagan celebrations. The decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of wreaths, holly, mistletoe, etc. are all historically pagan practices associated with Yule or winter solace.

So why have we been using these pagan traditions in our Christian celebration?

An old English historical writing helps us understand how this came about.  It contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons.

Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas.  As Christians let’s not be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what we have. Listen to what Pope Gregory said and rather than condemn the pagan traditions, give them Spiritual meaning.  We should try to use these dark traditions to spread the “Light” into the darkness. (John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”)

Search this website www.trainupthechild.org for the history of  various objects associated with Christmas and see how to relate them to the birth of Christ.  Just type in the search bar the tradition you wish to learn more about.

 

Dealing with Santa

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I realize some Christians avoid the Santa game all together.  Other Christians may choose to participate in the fun.

Our family chose to enjoy pretending about Santa, but always intentionally emphasizing throughout the season the true reason we celebrate, even using the tangible traditions to teach intangible truths.

A very Godly lady told us when our children were very small, “Don’t make your children so different from the world that the world doesn’t want what you have.” We have heeded that advice through the years and applied it in numerous situations, always trying to find things we could participate in with those that might not believe as we do, thus having an opportunity to interact with them.

To give further credence to this thought, an old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

We taught the true story of a man named Nicholas who gave gifts because he loved Jesus with all his heart.  A great children’s book about the history of Santa Claus is Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

Christmas Joy in the Midst of Grief

25 years ago this morning we were on the way to my Daddy’s funeral. I was always a daddy’s girl and we always enjoyed Christmas together, even one year making together from scratch our own aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel (remember those?)

As we traveled to the funeral I was questioning why he had to die at Christmas time and would I ever be able to enjoy the season again. Then a Christmas song I had never heard came on the radio. As I listened to it, I found great comfort in the words, “Man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.” I felt like God was assuring me that because of Christmas I will see Daddy again and I needed to continue to experience joy at Christmas and think of Daddy experiencing the ultimate Christmas joy in heaven.

I still cry from missing Daddy, but Jesus gives me His abiding peace and joy. A friend recently said that grief has no time table.  So whether this is your first Christmas without a loved one or this is your fiftieth one, I pray we will all experience the Joy of the Lord this special season in spite of our loss because ‘man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.’

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Day 25 of Keeping Christ in Christmas – Birthday Party for Jesus

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!!!

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Luke 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This was first announced to the shepherds, who were the lower class citizens of that day . . .
Jesus was born for all mankind, rich and poor.

Have a birthday party for Jesus, complete with cupcakes and candles and singing happy birthday to Him.  Our family does this sometime during the season when we can give Jesus full attention apart from the gift giving to each other.  The present for Jesus is always the first to go under the tree, wrapped in gold or silver paper.  It is filled with papers from previous years where we have all drawn on one side pictures of several things we are thankful for through the last year.  On the other side we have written the things we want to give Jesus in the coming year such as more time with Him or showing more compassion for others, etc.  We open the gift at the birthday party and read what each wrote the previous year,  make the sheet for the present year,  and then wrap it back up.  We end the evening with singing Christmas carols by candle light.

Thank you for reading the blog posts during these 25 days of keeping Christ in Christmas.

Have a very Happy Christmas Day!

Day 24 of Keeping Christ in Christmas – Christmas Web

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Christmas can be a whirlwind of activity. There is shopping, cooking, cards to write, entertaining, parties to attend, gifts to wrap, lists to check, more gifts to buy, and on and on.

So how do we transform this to make it a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ?

We incorporated an activity into our Christmas traditions, called ‘The Christmas Web’. The idea is that the true message of Christmas has become lost in a ‘web of commercialism’.  Put all the children in one bedroom with the door closed while you take rolls of yarn (one for each child) and weave the rolls like a giant spider web all over the house into every room.  It is hard to even move when it is complete.  It is the children’s  job to find the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ .  Hidden at the end of the string is a symbolic gift hidden such as a small flashlight that symbolizes ‘turning the light on to dispel the darkness’ in our world, a new cup that symbolizes ‘being the kind of vessel God can use’, or a new manger scene.

While the children follow their own web through the house, talk about finding the true meaning of Christmas that is mysteriously hidden in all the hustle and bustle of the season.

Mark 4:11 And Jesus said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables.”

Col. 1:26-27 “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.