There is a battle in my family. My daughter loves to start listening to and singing Christmas carols in November. I refuse to do so until Advent begins. Stores begin to put up Christmas displays months before the season. We adorn our houses with flashing lights and blow-up creations. Many of us put up crèche scenes in our homes and on our yards. We place luminaries on our roads and the cities decorate the light fixtures with greenery and wreaths. The Christmas holiday is popular and it is wide-spread.
But, did you know that at one time in the history of our country Christmas celebrations were banned? In New England, puritan leaders banned any celebrations of Christmas. They cited that there was nothing Scriptural commanding Christians to do so and the fact that it was pushed to December 25 was enough to not only have them discourage it but to make it illegal. They thought that it would make a mockery of the birth of Christ. Moreover, they cited that the actual birth of Jesus would have not been in December and because the date was chosen as a response to an existing pagan holiday, Christians should not participate. By 1680, however, the laws against Christmas were removed and the rise of the holiday began more earnestly.
In fact, by 1867 it was healthy enough that Macy’s in New York City kept its doors open until midnight on Christmas Eve. I guess late night black Friday-type shopping isn’t a new invention.
As Christians, however, we might listen a bit to our Puritan brothers and sisters of old. Maybe the pendulum has swung from one extreme to another. What should be a holy and contemplative season of darkness, light, salvation and a gift of life has often become for many a holiday of greed, emoji pillows or songs about Santa being run over by his own reindeer. Now, before you say BAH HUMBUG to me, I am not saying we remove all semblances of the fun we all enjoy, but maybe a response we should all consider this year is how much of our celebrations celebrate the Christ child? Does Christmas make a difference in your journey of faith or is it just another stressful holiday?
I pray you are able to find the Christ in Christmas!