Years ago in Russia, children went through the streets on Christmas eve, shouting and singing until people came to the doors and gave them food. This probably came from an older practice of pulling a beautiful girl on a sled through the streets, stopping before the houses to sing.
Armenians celebrate Christmas by eating fried fish, lettuce, and boiled spinach. They believe Mary ate boiled spinach the night before the birth of Christ. The celebrating lasts about three days with visiting and merrymaking.
Germans are great for their feasting at Christmas, with macaroon candies shaped and colored to look like roasted fowl, hams, fruits, and vegetables. Italians like fried eels, melons, wine, chicken, and pork with mustard sauce.
Mexicans celebrate Christmas by acting out Joseph and Mary's search for shelter in Bethlehem. The children anxiously await the climax of the festivities the breaking of the gift- and candy-filled piñata.
The Puritans in the early Massachusetts and New Haven colonies in their "blue laws" forbade their people to keep Christmas or to bake mincemeat pies at this time of year. The celebration of Christmas was frowned upon by the other New England colonies, but the southern colonies had a merry time at great parties.
Many people today celebrate Christmas with little idea of the real purpose of Jesus' birth. And many Christians join in the festivities unconscious of their origins.
The name Christmas itself reveals something about its origin. It is formed from the Catholic festival, "Christ's Mass."
No one knows for sure when the observance of Christ's birthday began. In 354 Pope Liberius chose December 25 to coincide with the sun-worshiping Romans' feast of the sun god. This feast celebrated the victory of light over darkness at the time of the winter solstice. (It was noted later that this date is very unrealistic since this is during the cold, rainy season in Palestine and shepherds would not have been in the fields with their sheep.)
The Austrians, Belgians, Bulgarians, French, Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Dutch and Swiss celebrate Christ's birthday on January 6.
The Christmas tree has a background of pagan worship. When the pagans of northern Europe became "Christians," they made their "sacred" evergreen a part of their "Christian" festivals.
Jolly Santa Claus grew out of the generous Dutch bishop, St. Nicholas. He adopted his chimney-sliding antics from an old Norse legend that the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplace to bring good luck to the home.
Even the sending of gifts can be traced back to the Yule gifts of northern Europe and the gift giving at ancient Roman sun-worshipping feasts. The ornaments, evergreens, holly, ivy, and bay have unchristian origins among the Romans, Druids, and Saxons. Wreaths were also used by the Romans in their pagan festivals.
You know the current American traditions - the music, the lights, the shopping craze, and the parties. Where do we find ourselves amid all this flurry and fun?
Biblical Christians are burdened as they see fellow brethren and sisters taken up with Christmas-this pagan holiday. No doubt, many are involved innocently. Many of us have grown up keeping Christmas in one form or another. We have exchanged gifts, held our stuffing feasts, sent our cards and lit our candles, but now we see the folly of it all.
The poor need our gifts, the hungry need our food, and the discouraged need our cards. But why only once a year? The candles and lights, the mistletoe and holly, the tree and the wreaths, the stockings and Santa, the merrymaking and feasting are definitely of the world and the apostate church. When we named the name of Jesus, we came out from all of that. The Bible says, "Be not conformed to the world."
My heart is heavy as I see the world (and many Christians) getting whipped up for the Christmas rush. The commercial world is going to reap a gold harvest this winter as they commercialize the name of Jesus.
Few today keep the commandments of the lowly Nazarene, but many make money on His name. They celebrate His birth but refuse to give Him room in their hearts. Santa really is more popular on December 25 than Christ is. Many children know very little of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. They only see the gifts, candies, and cards; and bow with excitement at the foot of the tree.
Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived of the Holy Ghost and was born of a young virgin in Bethlehem of Judea during the days of Herod the King. The Old Testament prophets foretold the birth of Christ, its nature, its time, and its place. They foretold the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, Christ's ministry, His rejection, the false witnesses, His silence, sufferings, death, His unbroken bones, resurrection, and His ascension. All this was gloriously fulfilled. The New Testament accounts verify the accuracy of the prophecies.
The story of the birth of Jesus is genuine because it was given by inspiration. But the birth of Jesus was only the beginning of the most wonderful life ever lived on earth.
It is rather strange (and yet understandable) that the world and apostate Christianity make so much of Christ's birth but so little of His life; so much ado about the story of the wise men but so little of Christ's discourses; so much about the manger, but so little of the cross; so much about the mother Mary, but so little about her Creator in the flesh; so much about His birth, but so little of its meaning; so much about His first coming, but so little of the coming of the Judge of the earth-who will judge according to His Word.
It is a trick of the devil to minimize parts of the Scriptures. It is also a trick of his to call extra attention to one Scripture at the expense of others. Many people today know the story of Jesus' birth but know little of His personal teachings and the teachings He gave through the holy apostles by revelation. There are clear Scripture teachings to commemorate the death, resurrection, and second coming of Christ but none to support a celebration of His birth.
We praise God for the coming of the Lamb of God into the world as described in Luke 2 and Matthew I and 2. And as ministers of the Gospel, we should preach the story of His miraculous birth. But our world today needs to hear not only of the Baby of Bethlehem but also of the "grown¬up" Jesus who is now both Lord and Christ, who is soon coming to require account of our time here.
Dear readers, let us not worship the BABY of Bethlehem but the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS! Jesus grew up! Let US grow up unto Him, putting away these carnal things-the traditions of apostate Christianity and the vestiges of pagan religions. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (I John 5:21).
Make sure that what you do on Christmas truly honors the risen Lord Jesus and builds His church.
Now, what will you do on Christmas Day?
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