Christmas history is very interesting, and when explored, the origins of Christmas reveal many age-old practices that have their roots in religious practices and rituals that pre-date the birth of Christ. While most Christians understand the purpose of the Christmas celebration, a look into our past Church history and the origins of Christmas can help Christians decipher fact from fiction, and sharpen their Biblical skills. Test your knowledge of holiday facts with our Christmas Quiz.
In the Old Testament, God's prophets warned Israel against serving other gods and participating in idolatry worship. God's judgment burned against Israel when the nation failed to uphold her covenant with Him. "And they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given them. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring it all the curses that are written in this book." (Deuteronomy 29: 26-27) Jeremiah 10: 2-5 explains in detail what one of the idolatry practices included. "For the customs of the people are vain; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (Jeremiah 10:3-4)
Christmas history reveals that during the Pagan practices of Rome, Romans worshipped the sun god, Nimrod. During the beginning winter months of shortened daylight, the Romans believed that this was a "death sign" of the sun god. At the end of the shorter day-span period, usually around December 24, the Pagans would burn a Yule log in the fire, and this log was replaced the very next day with an evergreen, cut from the forest and mounted inside the home. Decorations adorned the tree in worship of the sun god's resurrection through his son, Tammuz. The origins of Christmas trees are in the evergreen tree that was the symbol of life returning to the land through the warmth of the sun.
The origins of Christmas mistletoe are in fertility rituals and mysterious blessings by ancient Celtic priests, or Druids. The Christmas history of holly wreaths are steeped in evergreen boughs that were blessed by catholic priests, promising blessings upon the household and all guests. And, the Yule tide Christmas history equates to the burning of the Yule log, which in Chaldean means "infant log". There are many more origins of Christmas truths to discover and many Christmas history facts surrounding Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and the eight reindeer. Click the link to take a cool quiz on Christmas.
When Christians use the Bible as their ultimate guide to worship and the ultimate guide to the will of God, we find that Christmas history and its origins reveal a mix of Christian beliefs and ancient spiritualisms. The Word of God can guide to the ultimate worship practice of our King, and teach us to separate fact from fiction, truths from lies. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3: 16,17). This year, sharpen your family's focus and teach the real origins of Christmas to your family, using God's word as the ultimate source of truth.
Christmas traditions and the origins of the 12 days of Christmas are interesting and many Christians will find that when they grasp where many of the historic events come from, they may celebrate with more wisdom, bringing more of their focus to the King's birth day, the day December 25 has come to symbolize. The time of year that Christians celebrate Christmas is not actually the date of Christ's birth. Scripture points to a spring birth time for the Son of God. If it were ordained by God that we celebrate the birth of His Son, He would have commanded it in scripture, noting dates, which are very clear in other Jewish celebrations. Remembering Christ's death, however, is commanded in scripture, (1 Corinthians 11:24-25), but many other societal holidays have little to do with Christ or his birth. Family gatherings and tidings of joy are certainly harmless celebrations, if Christians, truly keep to the rituals and focus on the events that are Biblically sound and tested. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Originally, what is known as the societal celebration in December began in the ancient culture of the Roman Pagans. During the winter months, the time the sun shone daily was shortened until around December 25th. On the 25th and after, the sun began to shine for a longer time period each day. The Pagans used this pivotal day to worship the pagan sun god Nimrod. On the night before the 25th of December, a Yule (Chaldean word for infant) log was put on a fire to symbolize the death to their sun god, Nimrod. The next day, December 25th, an evergreen tree was erected and decorated in the homes to symbolize the resurrection of Nimrod through his son, Tammuz, and the coming of the sun again.
The first western churches celebrated Epiphany, as the day that the Magi arrived after Christ's birth, (this begins the 12 days of Christmas) and in other cultures, the King's day was January 6th. Over the course of hundreds of years, Christmas traditions have come to mean different things to different cultures, and have been celebrated among Christians and with pagan festivals, tied to the coming of a new year. The pagans used the days before the New Year to celebrate and performed rituals to drive away the old demons, to have good fortune for the New Year. When accepting certain events and routine without question, Christians might take the chance of passing questionable practices to their children. The Bible teaches that all can easily be deceived by the practices of the world. God often reminded Israel of the ease of falling into the traditions and customs of the pagans, and warned them against it. God completely understands how shortsighted humans can get caught up in practices that take all eyes off of Him. Click the link to learn about other traditions.
Celebrating with family and having an activity that makes a countdown to a celebration of Christ's birth can be a wonderful way to teach children about the truth of Christmas and what pivotal points Christians recognize and do not recognize. Also, researching other Christmas traditions and other teachings about the 12 days of Christmas will give families the opportunity to teach children within the family the important practice of testing everything against Scripture, the true way to determine what is accepted by God and what is not.
Christmas QuizChristmas puzzles are popular items to have around when family members and friends gather for the holidays. If planning on hosting an extended gathering for family or if having several parties, an array of games, or maybe a Christmas quiz or other activities for guests are a must. Fun activities are also nice to take along on holiday trips and can keep the children busy. An interesting trivia book can be a fun addition to any trip and should provide interactive entertainment for everyone in the car, except of course, the driver!
The ideal party game for adults is the one that has interesting trivia and other obscure Christmas information that will hold anyone's interest. For instance, the current tradition of holiday caroling evolved from an early British custom called Wassailing. Christmas quiz questions like this can keep an adult interested during any down time throughout the holidays. Other entertainment ideas that are especially engaging during the holidays are large Christmas puzzles that include a zillion pieces to put together. For some online fun, take this exciting Christmas Quiz.
Sitting around a table working on a puzzle or taking part in a good-natured competitive game in front of a cozy fire during a cold winter's day can provide some of the best holiday memories. There are many online sources that offer a huge selection of Christmas puzzles from which to choose. There are many options that depict a Scriptural scene such as the nativity, the wise men and the star of Bethlehem. Whether family members are trivia buffs or are detailed workers who would rather work on a joint project, such as puzzle, during the holiday, check out several online sources that offer the best in quite entertainment.
If ambitious, one can even take a Christmas quiz at many interesting websites that offer imaginative sites for trivia buffs. There are also Christmas puzzles online that provide interactive fun for computer enthusiasts as well. Some media savvy Christian websites offer the games and challenges in order to further the gospel through their productions. Taking part in these relaxing and fun activities can help release a little holiday stress. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, behold, there came wise men from the east...and , lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was...they saw the young child and fell down, and worshipped him..." (Matthew 2:1,9,11a) To find out more, take a quiz by clicking the links above.
Christmas trees have long symbolized the holiday season and the celebration of the birth of Christ for hundreds of years and in many Christian homes today. Christians welcome in the holiday season with trimming evergreen trees and hanging beautiful Christmas wreaths on their doors. The smell of evergreen needles and the sparkle of gold and silver ribbons bring warm memories of family gatherings, holiday cheer, and festive celebrations.
But, as most Christians realize, there is a debate swirling in society today about the secularizing of the day that is marked as Christ's birthday. Christmas has come to be more than the simple celebration of the birth of our Savior. Retailers base their yearly budgets on holiday sales, and Santa Clause is heralded more than Christ. So, as Christians evaluate their focus and search for the true meaning of the season, it might be a good idea for Christians to undertake a study of where many of the practiced traditions come from, gathering information to make good healthy choices for the spiritual growth of their families. Research into the origins of holiday traditions reveals that Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths have little to do with Christ.
The first evergreen trees erected in homes were symbols of worship to the pagan sun god, Nimrod. They were not called Christmas trees, but they were items that symbolized the resurrection of Nimrod through his son, Tammus. The tree was decorated with red berries and little balls that represented the sun and the sun-god these ancient people worshipped. The prophet Jeremiah warned the Israelites against taking part in such practices in Jeremiah 10: 2-5. The tradition of decorating a tree has evolved into a Christian practice, but when a true investigation of tree idolatry is undertaken in the Bible, Christians will find that tree idolatry was strictly forbidden. "And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all their fathers. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every hill, under every tree" (1 Kings 14:23).
The origins of wreaths being placed on doors dates back to the Middle Ages. The original Christmas wreaths were an evergreen hoop that hosted a symbol of the Mary and Christ in the center. The evergreen wreaths would be decorated with nuts and ribbons and be hung at the door or entrance to the home. A Catholic priest would bless the wreath and then it was believed that subsequent visitors would be blessed upon arrival.
When looking back on the reasons that many of our holiday traditions were created, we find that Christmas trees and wreaths have little, if nothing, to do with the birth of the world's Savior. The debate surrounding the secularization of Christmas should first address our own Christian traditions. How do hanging evergreens in the home bring glory to Christ? If He is truly the reason for the season, then perhaps we should undertake a tradition examination to see what we could do to better represent His life and death to our families. Clicking the links above will help families discover more about the true meaning of Christmas and all the traditional practices.