Christmas can be so commercialized and busy so this year, fill your holiday with joy and meaning by using these Christ Centered Christmas Traditions.
WHAT IS A CHRIST CENTERED CHRISTMAS?
God himself instructed His people in times of celebration to keep special traditions to help them to teach their children to remember how He had intervened on their behalf. Today most Christians celebrate God's intervention in their lives through the season of Christmas, which recalls the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord.
WHEN WAS THE TRADITIONAL CHRIST CENTERED CHRISTMAS CREATED?
According to CrossWalk, the traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day, and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day, some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture it also transforms it. In A.D. 320, one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHRIST CENTERED CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS?
Many American traditions, such as Christmas trees, gifts, holly, lights, colors, and bells. While none of these are a mandate from God, they will help us teach others and share who Christ is if we keep the right focus and perspective on the traditions we observe.
- Evergreen trees were the symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life in Christ by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas Eve lit with candles (Isaiah 60:13)
- Gifts are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi later brought to baby Jesus. Each of them speaks to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life, Bitterest Agony in Death, and He as God's Perfect gift to us. (Matthew 2)
- Holly speaks of the thorns and drops of blood in His crown to come as His work here on earth is complete. (Matthew 27:29)
- Lights are a picture that Christ is the Light of the world (John 8)
- Red is a color of Christmas that speaks of Christ's blood and death and green the eternal life He has for us.
- Bells are associated with the ringing out the news. Christ is the good news, the best news of all!
WHY FOCUS ON A CHRIST CENTERED CHRISTMAS?
God had always instructed His people in times of celebration to do the things that helped them to remember what he had done for them and to rejoice in that remembrance.
When Christmas has this focus, it becomes a wonderful time of renewal. But sadly, many times, this focus is lost to the commercialism of Christmas. Traditions for remembrance become stressful and meaningless or even destructive.
HOW DO WE KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS?
REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
First and foremost remember Christmas is about the coming of the gospel.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:16
Choose an advent devotional to read through. This will help your daily focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season, Christ.
- Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional
- The Littlest Watchman (Kids storybook)
- The Weary World Rejoices
INCLUDE OTHERS IN YOUR FAMILY CELEBRATIONS
Christmas can be a very lonely time for some; what better way to share Christ's love during the holiday season than by including others in our celebrations.
GIVE GIFTS TO OTHERS BESIDES YOUR FAMILY
Christmas is the perfect opportunity to bake cookies or give neighbors a small meaningful gift. Spend time talking with them, finding out their needs, hopes, and dreams. Use Christmas to build relationships. This will open the door for you to share the true meaning of Christmas.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
— Galatians 5:14
KEEP CHRIST IN MIND WHEN YOU DECORATE
Use manger scenes, angels, and other tangible reminders of the holiday's true reason when decorating your Christmas tree and home.
SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS THAT SHARE THE GOSPEL
When you mail out Christmas cards to friends and family, tuck in the There's No Christmas Without Christ track.
LISTEN TO CHRISTIAN CHRISTMAS MUSIC
Create a playlist and listen to it throughout the holiday season. Spend time reflecting on the words, reminding you the season's focus is Jesus' birth. Buy the book Songs for the Waiting: Devotions Inspired by the Hymns of Advent to help you learn about the song's meaning.
HOW TO STILL ENJOY ALL THE FUN STUFF
First, slow down and let go of expectations. I want you to remember that you do not have to do it all, nor should others expect you to. Simplify and choose to do a few of the best things with your time, not what you think others expect of you.
For ideas on how to do this read my post, Seven Keys to Simplify Your Christmas.
TIPS FOR BALANCING THE "SANTA" ASPECT
Saint Nicholas was the supposed early Bishop of a church in Asia Minor, now modern Turkey. He became aware of some desperate needs in his congregation of a family having to sell their children into slavery, so he came and left money on their doorstep one night. It was gold in a stocking. So began the tradition of Saint Nick coming for a visit by night, filling stockings with goodies.
The key is how Santa is presented. You can teach the historical context that he was a Bishop with a giving heart when others had needs. This lends an opportunity to teach children to look for ways to love and serve others. When Santa is a small part of the celebration, not its pinnacle, children are less likely to fixate on gifts and the season's secular aspects.
CHRIST CENTERED CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS TO START WITH YOUR FAMILY
HAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JESUS
This is a great way to get kids involved in learning about Christmas's true meaning when focusing on Christ's birth. Put up birthday decorations, have a special meal, and bake a birthday cake. Take this opportunity to invite others to share with them why Christ had to be born. All Things With Purpose has some cute party ideas.
READ TOGETHER THE GIVING MANGER EACH YEAR
Experience the true meaning of Christmas this year with The Giving Manger--a faith-based, interactive family tradition that encourages acts of kindness, focuses on giving rather than getting and honors the real reason for Christmas--Jesus' birth.
HAVE A JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM MEAL
Serve a Bethlehem meal featuring foods that Mary and Joseph might have shared on the road to Bethlehem. Enjoying the meal seated on the floor picnic-style. Focus On The Family shares with us some great ideas on how to set up the metal. There are menu ideas such as chickpeas, figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates, honey, and nuts. They also have a list of questions for reflection that will make your meal more meaningful.