Hey, Christians! Start Enjoying Christmas Again, for Christ's Sake!

“Jesus is the reason for the season.”
“Let’s keep CHRIST in Christmas.”
“Christmas decorations take the focus off Jesus.”
“Santa transposed is really S-A-T-A-N.”
“Happy holidays…, uhm Merry Christmas.”
“Keep the holy in holiday.”
“It’s Christmas, not Xmas.”
“Season’s greetings.”

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Christmas is a close second. My wife, Laura, was obviously raised by elves. You can tell by the way she festoons our home inside and out. Think Clark Griswald, but with very good taste!

Every ornament on our tree has a story or special meaning behind it. She puts decorations in places I would not have thought of. The outside is full of festive decorations and lights. In fact, we just tell delivery drivers that they “Can’t miss us.” Yes…we are that house! We love it!

Why can’t other Christians enjoy Christmas? Must we correct every expression of the holiday and boycott anything that falls short of our baseless beliefs? Why are we conditioned to make so much of something that, honestly, is no big deal?

Conservative Evangelical Christianity (hereafter and heretofore referred to as CEC) has filled our minds with a myriad of righteous indignation blasted from pulpits and Sunday School classes. “How dare we say, ‘Happy Holidays’ and spit on Jesus’ empty grave?” Picture Jesus standing there with his arms crossed looking totally disgusted as we completely ruin his birthday with our paltry carelessness. And we had better bring that tithe into the storehouse, or he will take it all away from us (another topic for another time).

Biblical scholars have suggested Jesus was most likely born in April and not on December 25th, as so many of us have believed, though no concrete proof exists. The Christmas that we celebrate was a compromise by the Emperor, Constantine, who declared December 25th the birth of the Lord. No one is certain why he did this.

Either to unify his empire, or to make converting to Christianity easier, Constantine sought to blend Christian and pagan traditions. At that time, two prominent pagan winter festivals were celebrated. The first, starting on December 17 and lasting seven days, honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. The second, starting on December 25 and lasting through January 1, commemorated the birth of Mithras, the Persian god of light. Constantine merged many of the traditions from these festivals with the Nativity story in the Bible and Christmas was born. From its beginning, Christmas was a holiday (or holy day), gifts were exchanged, families and friends gathered to feast, and a birth was celebrated; just like in the Roman and Persian festivities. 

The first mention of December 25 as the date of Jesus' birth is found in an early Roman calendar from A.D. 336. To this day, no one knows for sure when Jesus was born, and there is no historical record of anyone celebrating the nativity until the fourth century.

So, Christmas was invented over 300 years after the birth of Jesus. This is all documented in available ancient texts. Yet we proceed with the belief that on December 25th, in Bethlehem, the baby Jesus laid in a manger with all the animals and magi in attendance and we propagate that year after year.

It is not really a problem, and here’s why. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, and/or a holiday filled with joy, hope, cheer, and goodwill to all is what it’s all about!! God knows, our world could use more cheer and goodwill. You celebrate your way, and I will celebrate my way, and it will be a true celebration! Because of God’s great grace, you can have your version of Christmas without criticism! Why? Because God actually celebrates YOU! Scripture teaches that God, “Dances around wildly at the thought of you (Zephaniah 3:17)! Why would we not want to celebrate this marvelous truth 365 days a year instead of just at Christmas?

Tradition is what sometimes gets in our way. “We have always celebrated Christmas this way.” There is nothing wrong with tradition. My family didn’t really have specific traditions, unless you count my father getting plastered every year as we decorated the tree. I liked not having traditions. I enjoy the spontaneity of not knowing what would happen each year. Where are we going? Who is coming over? Being non-traditional can be fun. Being traditional can also be fun. It can all be fun! 

Having traditions is not bad; worshipping the traditions over the joy of the holidays is where we get ourselves into trouble. For example, you may have just read the Constantine story and you’re thinking, “I don’t care what this guy says, that ain’t my Jesus OR my Christmas.” It’s only history, and it is not binding upon you to change how you celebrate. People act and react based on the information they have. All I am trying to do is get more information out to the masses.

The bottom line to all of this is let’s just have a ball this season! Eat, drink, be merry! Surround yourself with people who love you and rest in the knowledge that God does NOT care if you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. His wish is for you to just enjoy it all! Maybe Constantine was on to something. Enjoy it all! The manger, Rudolph, Snoopy, Cousin Eddie, all of it. God made this stuff for us to enjoy! So, enjoy it, and have a blessed holiday season!

Bright Blessings,
Todd


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