Celebrating Christmas

Christmas trees, Santa Claus, "Xmas" — where do Christmas traditions come from? If they had pagan origins, should we avoid them? Or does the significance of what we do come from our hearts?

Day One: Celebrating Christmas
The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue...
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For more on celebrating Christmas, see "Should a Christian celebrate Christmas?"

Day Two: Nativity
Tradition says that Francis of Assisi created the very first Christmas nativity scene in AD 1223 after a trip to the Holy Land and Christ's birthplace. So began a new tradition that took root in many Western countries...
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For more on the Nativity, see "Art: Of Worship and Memory"

Day Three: Giving Gifts
Many people take the idea of gift giving at Christmas back to the scripture in Matthew 2:10-11 which talks about the Magi (wise men) giving gifts to Jesus at his home...
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For more on giving gifts, see "Choose Christmas"

Day Four: The War on Christmas
Many people perceive a modern-day "war on Christmas" being waged in the public square. Those who believe in the reality of a war on Christmas see a concerted effort to eliminate the word Christmas from public discourse...
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For more on the "war" on Christmas, see "Happy Holidays"

Day Five: "Xmas"
There are many who view the word "Xmas" as part of an overall "war on Christmas." They view it as a blatant attempt to take Christ out of Christmas...
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Day Six: The Christmas Tree
The modern custom of a Christmas tree does not come from any form of paganism. There is no evidence of any pagan religion decorating a special holiday tree for their mid-winter festivals...
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Day Seven: Kids and Santa
Although Santa Claus is a mythical figure, his creation is based in part on a great Christian man named Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century. Nicholas was born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed to the poor...
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For more on kids and Santa, see "Keeping it Real"

Day Eight: Pagan Origins
There is no doubt that some of what we now refer to as Christmas traditions can be traced back, in some form, to pagan cultures and celebrations. The ringing of bells, for example, is generally thought to have had its origin in the early pagan winter celebration of ringing of bells to drive out evil spirits...
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For more on pagan origins of Christmas, see "Why are some Christians Christmas haters?"

Day Nine: Saturnalia
Christmas, the day on which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, is in fact connected to the pagan festival known as SaturnaliaŚnot, however, for the reasons some skeptics assume...
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Image Credit: PredragKezic; Untitled; Creative Commons

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Published 10-25-15