“‘Tis the season to be jolly”. With this amazing season that is connected to the Christian religion, there are many questions that have risen over the years. For example, is celebrating Christmas really a Christian thing after all? Why do we do it anyway? If you’ve read our article Facts About Christmas That You Didn’t Know, you might have an idea of what the celebration background of Christmas is, and about the day the world started celebrating it. In this article, we will discuss various stories and background of this celebration.
Though we celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus, one thing is for sure. No one in this world knows the real birthdate of our Savior. Though the season of Jesus’ birth was described, the bible did not mention anything about the date. So, there is still no accurate hypothesis regarding the matter. But the background of Christmas will always continue as long as we have belief, faith, and hope, in the words of the Bible and its historic stories.
And as much as Christmas Christians are concerned, celebrating Christ’s life and His teachings should be the main event.
Christmas And The Meaning Of The Season
According to the Bible, the day that Jesus came into this world, the angels of God appeared in front of the shepherds while they are out on the field watching their animals (Luke 2:8). This particular scene commonly portrayed in plays about the nativity can spark certain questions. Why did the angels appeared in front of the shepherds first and give them the first-hand news about the Savior? Why not in front of the wise-men first? Or even the high-officials of churches or any high ranking official of the government? It is the son of God after all.
But why the shepherds? Why in the manger?
Jesus And His Life
The night Mary was in labor, all the rooms at the town’s inn were full. This then gave Mary and her husband, Joseph, no choice but to stay in a manger; a place where animals rest. He was called the King of all Kings so many times in the scriptures and yet he was born in a very unpleasant place. One thing. God allowed it to happen to teach us a valuable lesson about humility.
At the very first moment of His birth, God wants us to learn how to be humble and to not categorize people based on worldly criteria such as job and wealth. Shepherds in ancient times were considered irrelevant and social outcasts. Most viewed them as the lowest people in society and a group of sinners according to some scholars. Exactly why Jesus called for them first. He came to call unto the sinners and lead them to the path of salvation.
As Jesus grew and began His ministry, He never looked nice. There were verses that described how he didn’t look pleasant to people. In fact, in Matthew 13:55 we can read something like this “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”And they took offense at Him”. We can infer from this that Jesus was mocked in His own hometown. His father’s job, their familiarity with His brothers and sisters, and His education made people judge Him.
Yet, Jesus said in Romans 12:17-21 that we should not seek revenge for people who did us wrong. Rather feed them if they are hungry, give them water if they are thirsty, and clothe them if they have no clothes to wear. One of the lessons that the Bible emphasized was loving your neighbor, both literally and spiritually. And loving means forgiving and understanding, exactly the essence of Christmas.
336 days after Christ died, during the reign of Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus of the Roman Empire, Christmas was first celebrated. According to the pamphlet found late 1990’s, people celebrated the 25th of December not for midwinter or the end of the winter but for the birth of someone called Christ. Also, they started building Christmas trees to signify the beginning of the advent.
When the Puritan Separatist Movement Governor William Bradford came into position between 1621 and 1657, he pinpointed the said celebration to be a pagan practice and as illegal as other indecent liberties to be heavily punished by law if somebody was caught doing it. The Puritan community claimed that celebrating the birth of Christ was not mentioned in the Bible and something that promotes idolatry. Which in fact is partly true.
The very date, December 25, was actually based on the Pagan celebration of Roman’s God of Sun, Saturnalia. Some Christians argued that establishing Christ’s birthdate together with a Pagan god is blasphemous. In verses like 1 Corinthians 10:20 it says:
“No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants wih demons”
In this verse, we can see how God hated Pagan practices and how He asked Christians to avoid such things. However, some researchers argued that the Roman Catholic Church converted this day to a Christian celebration to make people avoid the pagan rites supposed to be done that day. The rites and offerings they would supposedly give to Saturnalia would be instead offered to the statue of Nativity.
The True Meaning Of Christmas
Christians and Non-Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas. Although we all have different opinions regarding this celebration, the most important thing should be focusing on what Jesus wants us to learn from His birth and His life. No matter who we are, what we did in the past, and other things that kept us away from the love of God, may Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to save us and He will always do.
Matthew 25:45 says; “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth; when you refused to help the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
Let the light of love, compassion, understanding, humility, and faith brighten all our days. Let’s treat each other as brothers and sisters to illuminate God’s love for everyone. Give each other gifts, cards with bible verses, and time to show your love and care. May Christmas be always in our hearts and not just every December.