There are some people who have a bit of a problem with the idea of Christmas. Why? Because yes some of the traditions do have some pagan origins.
Some of the symbolism comes from a pagan festival with a pagan god. Some have taken this to mean that we are deceived and our Christian holiday is not so Christian. So some have distanced themselves from the holiday as if it is an affront to God. Some are concerned over the exact dating of the event. Still others may simply want to avoid the commercialism and materialism that veers it’s ugly head in full force during this season. The latter may be worth looking into.
But the truth of the matter is that while these things may be true they are not what is celebrated. What is celebrated is what won out. What won out is the Christian tradition, our emphasis.
Try to have Christmas without the song Joy To the World. What Joy to the World would there be without Jesus in the manger. The little town of Bethlehem is know throughout the world as the birthplace of Christ. The power ballad O’ Holy Night’ continues to challenges and inspire pop stars to this day. These songs tie Christmas to the King.
Christians decided to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th to replace the Roman Saturnalia for the winter solstice. A pagan holiday more similar to our current Halloween with a bit of the roman gods thrown in for good measure. But Christians challenged the use of the holiday and made it another occasion to “do this in remembrance of me” as Jesus taught at the last supper.
This is similar to prayers before we eat. For some this tradition can be linked to prayer of protection in pagan rituals. But again we do this as honoring to God our father our provider. We acknowledge him as the one who gives us our sustenance as we were taught to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. We redeem meal time. We reflect on God and bring him glory in something as mundane as stuffing our faces.
And the awesome thing is that it worked! We think of God now when we eat. In the same way we now celebrate the 3 wise men instead of Odin or Saturn. We celebrate gift giving for a reason instead of a kidnapping troll. We celebrate the birth of our savior instead of a reversal of societal norms and gambling. We focus on the true God instead of some roman gods. We know the biblical Christmas story instead of the pagan history that I have mentioned here.
Obviously there are songs about Santa as well. But in looking at who he actually was, we learn that he was a great man worth celebrating and in even mimicking.
Sincter Klaas a Ducth man actually did live and he did show love and gratitude to his fellow man because of the great things God has done. He was generous he did give gifts, and he helped those in need. His legend did grow into the Santa Claus we have today. Christmas both for us and for him have never been stripped of the reasoning behind the generosity. We give because he first gave to us.
So celebrating the reason of the season is very important. It is also what we celebrate because of choices made. So let’s continue to celebrate Christmas specifically, not just the holidays. Just as music of the season tie Christmas to the King, let us also realize that Christians decided to tie December 25th to Christmas and continue to tie Christmas to the true King.
Let’s continue to join with God and be in the business of redeeming things not picketing them.