As we enter into what’s become known as the Holiday Season, I wanted to offer a few friendly reminders to my fellow Christians.
The word “holidays” literally means “holy days,” not an “aggressive secular term intended to offend religious people.”
While I am a huge proponent of gratitude and while I certainly think an annual celebration of thanksgiving is more than appropriate for any/everyone (…even those who aren’t religious. See the work of Dr. Robert Emmons regarding the science of gratitude, or even the comments of self-proclaimed agnostic, A.J. Jacobs on gratitude in his book, “The Year of Living Biblically”), Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday. It is not mandated by Scripture. It wasn’t even celebrated annually until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that it would be celebrated annually on the last Thursday in November. That lasted for about 75 years until FDR changed it to appease retailers who were complaining that it would interfere with the Christmas shopping season. He declared that it would be celebrated the 2nd-to-last Thursday in November…which caused a great deal of confusion and even outrage among some people. In 1940, to clear up the confusion and contention over the holiday, Congress declared that it would be celebrated annually on the 4th Thursday in November. My point is, it’s a great opportunity for you to cultivate and reinforce gratitude in your own life. It is not an opportunity to gripe about how other people aren’t celebrating it as you see fit. It is actually impossible to feel entitlement and gratitude at the same time.
The term “X-mas” originated from a shorthand way that early Christians had of referring to Christ by using the Greek letter “Chi”. They liked it because it was the first letter in “Christ” and it was written in the shape of a cross. The term “x-mas” is quite literally a shorthand way of writing “Christmas”, not an atheist conspiracy to remove Christ from Christmas.
While I heartily encourage Christians who feel so inclined to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas, (as my family intends to), there is not a shred of evidence that this was the day that Jesus was born. No serious scholar or historian argues that it is the actual day. Most evidence actually indicates that Jesus was probably born in the spring. The Bible does not mandate the celebration of Jesus’s birth at all, nor does it mention Christians celebrating it. Historically, it wasn’t celebrated by the church in any sense for the first 3 centuries of the church’s existence. My point is, if you want to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas, then, by all means, do so with your whole heart. However, if someone else doesn’t want to do that, cut them some slack. (Also, if you are a Christian and feel that everyone has to agree with you about celebrating Christmas as Jesus’s birthday one way or the other, see Romans 14).
There is no war on Christmas. It’s not really a thing. That idea is being sold to you by people who stand to profit from you believing it because it makes you more likely to watch their network, listen to their radio program, or donate to their organization. For retailers, it frankly makes sense to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” if they choose to offer a seasonal greeting at all, because
A. They are catering to a diverse population and want to be respectful to all of their customers, and…
B. On calendars, Christmas is actually only 1 day…December 25, and the vast majority of businesses are closed on that day (Although, it should be noted that Christmas is 12 days in liturgical traditions…who tend not to get worked up about this kind of thing). And don’t forget Thanksgiving and New Years. How much simpler is it to say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and have a great New Year”?
So this Christmas season, I’m inviting you to take some of the weight of the world off of your shoulders. We we won’t all see eye to eye on this. We may or may not feel a need to defend Jesus from those who may or may not be attempting to hijack Christmas.
But keep in mind that some of the things we see as threats are setting us up to overreact and embarrass the cause of Christ. Instead, go home and love your family. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater. Go to a live nativity scene. And most of all, be slow to speak and quick to listen.
The Donkey in the Living Room
Begin a new family tradition this Christmas with The Donkey in the Living Room picture book and box set by Sarah Raymond Cunningham with illustrations by Michael Foster.
Children will learn the true meaning of Christmas through the individual stories of the characters present at Jesus’ birth – the Donkey, Cow, Sheep, Shepherd, Angel, Camel, Wise Men, Joseph, and of course, baby Jesus – intended to be read each day in the 9-days before Christmas. Stories are read alongside corresponding Nativity pieces, which may be wrapped and hidden for children. BUY NOW