For Christians, Christmas is a sacred season. It is the time we set aside each year to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We believe that Jesus, Son of God and Creator of everything, gave up His throne for 33 years. He left the worship and honor He received in Heaven, choosing instead to be born as a helpless human baby, and raised in a humble Jewish family. He served the people He’d created and they despised Him. Eventually, they tortured and killed Him, all of which He knew would happen before He agreed to come.
And if He hadn’t come, we would not be saved. We would have no alternative to eternity in Hell. Without the events that transpired that first Christmas, we would have no hope, no reason for joy. The birth of baby Jesus changed literally everything! This is why we celebrate. Jesus is the whole reason for the season. In my family, we try to be deliberate, to make certain He is the center of our celebration. We have at least 9 traditions which have characterized our Christian Christmas.
- the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
- the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
The word “Advent” has become as much a secular idea as it is a Christian one. My daughter received an “Advent Calendar”, which has tiny doors in a box shaped like a Christmas tree. Behind each door are skin care samples. It was a nice gift from her friend, but it has nothing to do with the Advent of our Savior.
We have found wonderful tools, over the years, which have helped to direct our focus through the season of Advent. The important thing is to keep the important thing the important thing. The important thing is Jesus!
Moving nativity pieces
When we put out our Nativity set, we put the shepherds a small distance from the stable, as if ‘in the fields’. The wise men are placed further away, and baby Jesus is not in the mix. When the kids wake up on Christmas morning, baby Jesus is in the manger, the shepherds are up close, and the wise men are on the move! This is one way we remember all that happened on that first Christmas Eve. Even though my kids are adults now, they make a big deal about Jesus not appearing in the manger until Christmas morning!
Avoidance of Santa
Santa does not appear in our Christmas. He does not come on Christmas Eve, his likeness is not on our wrapping, and we do not include him at all. We have had discussions about who St. Nick was and the good that he did, but for the most part, we avoid all of that and direct our focus on Jesus.
I’m not saying a Christian cannot include Santa in Christmas. If you do, I’m not trying to shame you. For us, it was simpler not to divide our attention.
My granddaughter spent the night somewhere else this past weekend. When she came home, she told me that Santa could see and hear everything we do. I said, “That sounds like Jesus!” She said, “But the best presents come from Santa, so it is important not to disappoint him.” It broke my heart that, even though we don’t give Santa any room in our traditions, he rose to the level of Jesus, in her regard, in just one evening away. Attributes belonging to the King of Kings are His alone. A heart cannot serve two masters.
No Elf on the Shelf
As with Santa, we steer away from Elf on the Shelf. Elves are part of the Santa tradition, and we have no desire to make that story come alive. A focus on the Advent of Jesus is more productive and makes the season more meaningful.
Whether it is a full stage production or just carols being sung at home, there is always some performance of the Christmas story. It is just who we are as a family. Singing, playing instruments, acting, directing… God gave us many means of expression to use for His glory and opportunities abound at Christmastime.
Christmas Eve services
We have spent many Christmas Eves at church. Sometimes the pageants mentioned above took place the day before Christmas. Other times, we went to worship and learn. And there have also been years where we stayed home and did our own service. This year, we will be home. I look forward to singing and praying together and having my husband share from God’s Word. I was hoping to go caroling as well, but I think there is heavy rain in the forecast. We shall see!
The reading of Luke 2 on Christmas morning
Luke 2:1-21 contains the Christmas story. We usually read to the end of the chapter, which takes us approximately 12 years into Jesus’ life. It is our way of keeping Christ in CHRISTmas, even while we are opening gifts, eating our favorite quiche, and doing the things which might tend to distract us from our true focus on Christmas morning.
Birthday cake for Jesus/Singing Happy Birthday
We bake a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. We put candles on it and sing Happy Birthday to Him. I’ll be honest – sometimes we have so many desserts around that baking a cake seems like a crazy idea. But we are celebrating the birth of our Savior and His birthday cake is a tangible reminder. The other sweets can be put in the freezer for another time.
More Away in a Manger and less Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
We love Christmas music! My husband gets tired of it and will not let us play it all year ’round, or we definitely would. Even so, we must be intentional about singing more “Away in a Manger” and “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and less “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Baby”.
I googled Christmas Carols and noticed that half of what came up was called “Christmas Songs” or “Christmas Classics”. Those largely leave Jesus out. The search results which were called “Christmas Carols” were mostly about Jesus. But I thought it was telling that both came up equally when I requested carols. The line has gotten very blurred.
So there we have 9 traditions which have characterized our Christian Christmas. I’d love to hear from you. If you celebrate a Christian Christmas, what traditions help you to keep Jesus in the center? If you do not celebrate a Christian Christmas, I’d enjoy hearing one of your traditions and the meaning behind it.
Thank you so much for being here, for reading, and for celebrating this most wonderful season with me. I adore the gift of your friendship and appreciate you so much! Merry Christmas!