“I am Yahweh who sets you apart, the One who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh.” – Leviticus 22:32-33
God is to be revered and holy, but God also wants us to have joyful celebrations so that we may remember His good deeds and provisions, and to pass those traditions down to our families. God gave the Israelites many festivals and holy days in the Old Testament to set them apart as a people and to proclaim the glory of God to all. There were festivals for Passover, the Festival of Trumpets, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Atonement, Purim, and the Festival of Firstfruits just to name a few. Jesus also continued many of those traditions, and much of our tradition and culture today have those same roots.
The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated as a holiday on December 25th was in 336 AD, during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine.
The 16th century German preacher Martin Luther was thought to be the first one to bring a Christmas tree into the house for decoration. He said that seeing a star on the tree reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.
The first Christmas card was started in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole who was interested in how the new public post office could be used by everyone.
The poinsettia flower and leaves are thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.
St. Nicholas was a Bishop in 4th century AD in Asia Minor, now called Turkey. His parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. What a legacy!
The custom of giving and receiving presents reminds us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men – gold, frankincense and myrrh. And of course, the biggest present of all is Jesus! God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life. John 3:16
May you remember the origins and traditions of the Christmas holiday as a way to celebrate the joy and life that comes from God.
* Merry Christmas *