Christmas themes are fun to plan as families prepare for the holiday season with great anticipation of the celebration. Christmas decorating ideas are the center of focus as homes turn into holiday presentations full of warmth, the very thing memories are made of. Homes full of green and red ribbons and colorful holiday balls mark the coming of the day that is celebrated as Christ's birth. Schools use holiday themes in their classrooms and seasonal decor can be seen throughout city streets and retail stores. But, before planning this year's parties and family gatherings, Christians might want to take the time to research some of the modern day traditions and their origins, finding every opportunity to celebrate the reason for the season in truth.
Holiday gatherings are often centered around traditions that have been in practice for hundreds of years, and the origins of these traditions are not well known by the Christian community. And, the Christmas decorating ideas that are birthed from holly and mistletoe have beginnings that pre-date Christ. Many Christmas themes are centered around the holiday tree, which has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. The decorating of an evergreen tree in the home began in Rome, where pagans would erect an evergreen on December 25th in celebration of the resurrection of their sun god, Nimrod. The evergreen was brought into the home and decorated with red berries and small gold and silver balls, all of which would symbolize the sun and therefore bring glory to their sun god just after the winter solstice.
Mistletoe, another popular holiday symbol was viewed as a sacred plant in European folklore. Mistletoe was believed to impart fertility and was used as an aphrodisiac. Celtic Druids, or priests, used Mistletoe in sacrifices while offering prayers for goodwill and fortune. Mistletoe has also been used in ancient cultures to keep away evil demonic spirits. Have you ever wondered what mistletoe had to do with the birth of Christ and why is is used with Christmas decorating ideas?
God commands that His people live as a holy people, set apart from the practices of the world. Since the time of Christ, for over two thousand years now, Christians have been trying to find ways to live within the world and yet, not be a part of it. Combining ancient rituals and Christian memorials has offered the opportunity for Christians to "Christianize" the celebrations that honored false gods and idols. While claiming all things under Christ's domain is a good and faithful practice; accepting practices that do not bring Him honor is not. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).
The prophet, Jeremiah also warned the people of Israel against participating in pagan rituals. "For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (Jeremiah 10:3-4) This season as Christians across the world plan Christmas themes for parties and plan to decorate homes, perhaps a simple investigation of scripture could reveal worshipful ways to honor Christ as King. For more information about the truth Christmas decorating ideas, visit the links above.
Personalized Christmas cards no longer have to be ordered through greeting card companies. With the introduction of PCs, printers, and specialized software, anyone can open up a new business avenue. Many computer enthusiasts are taking advantage of the amateur desktop publishing opportunities provided by computer products in the recent years to print their own invitations to parties and holiday gatherings. However, it is still difficult to compete with the slick, classy personalized Christmas cards that many fine companies can produce through their mass production systems.
Christmas invitations can be found in a variety of designs and themes, allowing an entrepreneur to purchase personalized cards that have their own special touch. Standard Christmas invitations are also available from many sources that allow sellers to order cards that are printed with personalized greetings or a family name. Many Christmas cards offer embossed or foil stamped printing for personal messages. Many companies offer products for party needs with options such as picture insertions and other custom features.
Card companies offer novelty holiday greetings for the most discriminating connoisseurs. Many consumers can choose to purchase their cards through fund raisers that school and non-profit organizations sponsor before the holidays. This gives them an opportunity to help with a favorite charity or organization while spreading a little holiday cheer. Also, many use their Christmas invitations as an opportunity to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ! Select a Bible verse that gives the reason for the season, such as Matthew 2:1-2: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, behold, there came wise men in from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." With these personalized greetings, we can encourage others to worship our King during this hallowed season.
Choosing to support a charity fits in nicely with the original purpose of the first personalized greeting cards. The idea began in England in the early 1800s with a philanthropist who commissioned an artist to paint a picture of the poor and needy. The Englishman had cards printed in bulk, then he sent them to all his friends to remind them of his charity cause. Whatever the need for personalized Christmas cards, you can find a wide assortment that also offers quotes and sayings to remind receivers of the real meaning of Christmas.
Christmas Outdoor DecorationsChristmas outdoor decorations are becoming more and more popular and neighborhoods compete against one another in filling the streets with the spirit of the season. Christmas lawn decorations range from nativities to Santa Clause with a crashed sleigh and eight dazed reindeer. Americans spend thousands of dollars and tons of time on seasonal holiday decor to bring the ultimate feeling into the holiday season. But, as roofs are lit and plywood figures take place on lawns, the true magic of Christmas gets overlooked year after year. The birth of Christ, the reason that Christians celebrate in December, was ushered into mankind with quiet humility and humble beginnings. Holiday decorations flash; Christ, walked in humility. Decorated lawns show off creative genius; Christ washed his disciples' feet.
Humble beginnings, a gentle nature, and a quiet servant dedicated to His Father are the attributes that Christ commands us to honor in Him. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for heir's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:3-5) As we dive into holiday traditions of Christmas outdoor decorations and elaborate Christmas lawn decorations, let us not forget that the One we celebrate, often ordered celebrations of a completely different nature. At the last supper, Christ ordered that the drinking and eating of the Lord's Supper, a somber reminder what He died for, be commemorated. God himself employs us to "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) As if to say that He reveals himself in the times when we are quiet and humble, waiting upon Him. In our stillness He is much more revealed than through elaborate holiday decorating.
With all of the lovely trappings of the holiday season and the climax on Christmas Day, we need to take as much time in quietness and humility, and set ourselves before our God. We are told in the Bible that the angels celebrate at the news of one repenting life. "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." (Luke 15:10) Our Christmas celebrations should reflect the angelic celebrations in heaven and for the same reasons. Sometimes slowing down and quietly reflecting on the marvels of God, bring Him more satisfaction than our "over-do, over-buy" philosophies with holiday trees or Christmas outdoor decorations.
This holiday season, as we pull out the Christmas lawn decorations out of the attic and dust off other holiday decor, let's not forget that in a quiet night and to a low class of citizens, shepherds of sheep, God revealed that His greatest work had just arrived on earth. And, let us take the very precious time we have to mirror Him and all that He came for. "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17) To get more information about the celebration of Christmas, click the links above.
Christmas lights are charming and bring an ambiance of magic to the Christmas season. Christmas lighting outside on the lawn reminds us of velvet nights studded with twinkling stars. A holiday tree seemingly alive with small lighted colors delightfully tops off a cold evening in the holiday season. Grand celebrations with the lighting of trees have been traditions for as long as most of us can remember. The first official lighting is said to have been in 1882, when Edward Johnson electrically lit a Christmas tree with tiny light bulbs in New York City. Since that time, strands of small lights have grown into color strings of Christmas lights in all shapes and sizes, utilized by millions of holiday lovers during the holiday season.
Traditional Christmas lighting of trees actually began long before Edward Johnson every strung up the first electrical Christmas lights. Actually, several ancient religions used lamp and candle lighting, along with various trees with their winter ceremonies. The winter solstice season observed by Egyptians was marked with palm trees and leaves decorated in their homes to mark the coming season of life, spring. The Roman culture honored the god of agriculture with a festival called Saturnalia, which was marked with decorated evergreen trees and with the exchange of gifts, including lamps. And in Great Britain, Druids, priest of the woods, would use evergreens and candlelight in mysterious rituals to observe solstice and keep evil spirits at bay.
As harmless as these ancient observations may seem, the root of all religions other than the worship of the One true God are opposed by the One true God. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8) The observance of these rituals and occasions were giving glory to idols and spirits that claimed to be gods, but were nothing more than Satan and his fallen angels deceiving man.
It's interesting how close in practice many of the old rituals were to each other, even though they were each from lands far apart. And, what's more interesting still is that we are using some of these practices, such as the Christmas lighting of trees, today. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye children of light. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11). The Bible warns of mixing our faith with traditional rituals, and throughout the Old Testament, God continually judged Israel for their habit of taking part in other religious activities. "Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed by them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that move it not." (Jeremiah 10:2-3)
Perhaps this holiday season as evergreen trees are being adorned with decorations, families should reflect on Christ. Perhaps, even an evaluation of all Christmas lighting and other traditions that do not point to Christ could be reconsidered and prayed about. To keep our worship pure, Christians should come to an understanding of what different holidays and their traditions truly represent. Simply accepting any ritual or tradition at face value, without an examination of scripture is proof how easily mankind can be led astray. Fortunately for us, we do have the Bible to work as our ultimate guide to God's will and God's character. For more on Christmas lights and other traditions, click the links above.