I Say "Merry Christmas"
I feel like people cringe nowadays when they hear the phrase "Merry Christmas" at Christmas time. Today it is so politically incorrect to utter this simple phrase that most people (Christians and non Christians) avoid it altogether. Instead we hear "Happy Holidays" or even just "Thanks for shopping with us."
But while the public at large may seek to sterilize Christmas, a Christian holiday, with words and meaning that have nothing to do with Christmas, I refuse to do so. Christmas has become a shopper's holiday and is an affront to the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, NOT saying "Merry Christmas" is caving to the political pressures of this world who just want Jesus and Christ followers swept under the rug. Ever hear the saying that if you don't exercise your rights, you will lose them? That is exactly what is happening with our right to say Merry Christmas, let alone celebrate the true meaning of Christmas! Well, it is a breach of my freedoms to expect me to say anything other than "Merry Christmas" at Christmas time. So, I will continue to exercise my right to express my religion and use my 1st Amendment rights until my rights as a citizen of the United States are taken away.
Now, I realize that there are other religions out there that also celebrate a holiday around this time of year. By all means, if you are celebrating your religious holiday, please use whatever expression fits you. Just don't tell me I can't do the same and don't take over my holiday!
Christmas Is the Celebration of Jesus Christ's Birth
Contrary to popular belief, Christmas was not invented by a guy named Saint Nicolas. While he may have began the tradition of giving children gifts, the tradition of Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of the Jews. Christmas is about declaring the good news of a savior come to earth, sent by God to deliver every man, woman and child from eternal death, through his eventual sacrifice on the cross. Now, the Jews at the time denied that Jesus was their long sought after Messiah. But the Magi that came from the east, drawn by the star of Bethlehem, knew they were looking for the promised King of the Jews, and brought gifts fit for a king and presented them to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12 NIV).
While I hold no ill will towards "Santa Claus" or the giving of gifts, for Christians it is wrong to lose focus of what is the true meaning of Christmas. Not only did the Magi come to Jesus bringing him gifts at the event of his birth, but Jesus himself is the greatest gift of all, given to all mankind. Thus giving gifts at Christmas makes all the more sense, as we have the greatest example of gift giving! I hope that Christians would remember to share not just earthly treasures at Christmas, but the greatest gift of all, faith in Jesus.
A Unique Expression of Christmas
Christian families all have little traditions that we do to honor the true meaning of Christmas; like going to a Christmas Eve service, setting up a nativity scene, or reading the story of Jesus' birth in the manger. These are nice, but ever since I was little my family has celebrated Christmas in a unique way that I think brings the focus of this holiday back to what it actually celebrates, Jesus' birthday. We bake a birthday-style cake and decorate it to honor Jesus' birthday. Now, we don't put 2,000+ candles on it, but we do sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus! This has been our way to honor His birth, just like we honor other people's birthdays that have special meaning to us. I have continued this tradition with my kids and we all love it. It is a great way to make the birthday aspect of Christmas more real in our current culture.
We bake a birthday-style cake and decorate it to honor Jesus' birthday. Now, we don't put 2,000+ candles on it, but we do sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus!
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Is Jesus Birthday Really on December 25th?
Have you ever met someone who didn't know what day their real birthday was on? I have. One girl was adopted and her family changed her original birthday to one that had meaning for them. Her adoption day. Another woman I know grew up in a family that worshiped in an evil cult. They never documented her birthday, and when she escaped, she didn't even know how old she was. She had to pick a birthday to celebrate as she integrated back into normal society. In another example, how many ancient historical figures can you think of that historians have had to estimate the year of their birth, not to mention the specific day?
I brought up these examples to point out that these people are no less real. They were born, people know/knew them and loved them, but not knowing their actual birthday does not discount them as having existed. Jesus was born! It is well documented and undisputed. Just because we had to estimate the time of the year and day of his birth does not discount that he was here. So, the short answer is no, Jesus was probably not literally born on December 25th. But as a whole, Christians have chosen to celebrate his birthday on the 25th of December, and that tradition is here to stay.
Is Jesus' Birthday really on December 25th?
What About Pagan Roots?
Some religious purists will put out the argument that Christmas shouldn't be celebrated by Christians at all because many of the symbols and decorations we use came from a pagan holiday that was taken over by Christians. Paganism ran rampant both before and after Jesus' birth. If Christians took over pagan traditions or symbols and used them to celebrate something good instead of evil, then what is there to complain about! If you dig into the history of some of the symbols of Christmas, like the tree and the ornaments, you will find plenty of material to make the pagan holiday argument. I'm not going to go into that in this hub. I'm pretty sure whatever they were celebrating it had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, and that is exactly what we are celebrating at Christmastime, the birth of the Savior and Light of the World.
Personally, I choose to decorate my home in much the same way everyone else does, regardless of the symbols supposed origin. To me, my Christmas tree reminds me that my Savior died on a "tree" for me. I choose ornaments that represent light, love, family, God's creation and Jesus himself. Celebrating any holiday, or "holy day" is first about the reason the day is holy in the first place, and secondly about the way you express your reverence for the day. So, being true to the meaning and spirit of Christmas is all we really need to worry about. It's about Jesus, and our remembrance of His birth.
Merry Christmas to You!
However you choose to celebrate Christmas, I hope you now have a deeper understanding of what Christmas means to Christians, and why we insist on saying "Merry Christmas". It's not only our right to express our religious beliefs, but our hope is that you too would experience the joy of Jesus' birth and what it means for the whole world; that a Savior has come! If you believe differently than Christians or are celebrating a different holiday during this season, feel free to greet others with your expression in return. But from me you'll always hear, "Merry Christmas"!
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© 2017 Willow Mattox