The (Real) Reason for the Season
I know that Christmas is near when the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” starts to ring in my ear - what about you?
Whether it’s the gift exchanges, the scrumptious Christmas meals, or the festive ornaments decorated around one’s home, one thing’s for certain - Christians (and people of other faiths too) look forward to celebrating Christmas across the world.
But have you ever wondered about the significance behind these Christmas traditions? As we enter the festive season, let us explore 4 popular Christmas beliefs.
#1: Significance of the Christmas Tree
Last weekend, my family put up our Christmas tree and decked it with Christmas ornaments - something my wife and I started to do with our children every year. In a way, it’s been a family tradition for us.
The Christmas tree is emblematic of Christmas but one may ask, “Does it have any religious significance, or is it merely a cultural tradition?”. To answer this question, we look back to Bible and find that the closest religious intonation it could have would be the star at the top of the tree which some take to represent the star of Bethlehem.
There is, however, no mention of Christmas trees or hanging of ornaments in the Bible. So while families religiously decorate their homes with a Christmas tree each year, this practice could merely be a festive tradition.
However, the Bible does mention a tree - just not the one we’d typically expect. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on the tree’”. So, Christmas remains significant for us because it reminds us of a King who entered into the world to redeem us from the curse, by being hung on the tree.
#2: What About Santa?
Santa Claus is known to be that jolly, burly, bearded man who goes around distributing presents to children on the night of Christmas eve. But while we have come to realise that Santa Claus is just a folklore, don’t you find that his actions and intentions mirror a “certain someone” from the Bible?
In many ways, Santa’s ability to be everywhere on Christmas eve, see how everyone in the world is behaving, and his desire to give good gifts, parallels God.
On the very first Christmas, John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave us the greatest gift - His son, Jesus. So while we recognise that Santa isn’t a direct representation of God, Christmas reminds us of God’s greatest gift which marked the greatest turning point for all mankind.
#3: Being Naughty and Nice
“He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice”. These are the lyrics of a popular Christmas song that is often used to tell children that they will not receive any presents from Santa if they do not behave themselves.
But Romans 5:8 tells us quite the opposite. It says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What makes this Christmas story such Good News is that the very reason why we were given the gift of Jesus is not because we were nice, but because of God’s grace in spite of us being “not nice”.
#4: Celebration of Festivities
Christmas never feels complete without the gathering of family and friends, the exchanging of gifts, and the huge spread of delicious food. While we tend to revel in the emotional high of all the festivities and celebrations, this often dips back to a low once everyone has left and you’re faced with a table of leftovers and a sinkful of things to dishes to clean.
Yet, the story of Christmas informs us that these festivities are a foretaste of the lasting joy that awaits us when the Second Advent arrives. When Jesus returns again, we can look forward to a greater joy and feast that awaits all who place their trust in Jesus.
Have a merry and very blessed Christmas.