“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23
Every year, as my husband and I plan our Christmas activities for the season, my mind cannot help but wander down memory lane to reflect upon Christmas’s past. I am flooded with so many fond memories of the holy season from the Christmas of my youth!
My mother took great care to make sure that everything our family did during the holidays reflected the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ. I want to make sure these traditions live on in my family. Now, more than ever,
Christmas is the time for families of faith to share the message of God’s love with others as we celebrate our Savior’s birth!
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
Here are a few of my favorite Christmas traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. What I love most about these traditions is that they truly keep our family’s focus on honoring the baby Jesus and celebrating the miracle of His birth!
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:6-7
Did you know that Saint Francis of Assisi created the first Nativity scene in 1223 to help people worship Christ during Christmas, instead of focusing on material gifts and other secular pursuits? Sounds like the people of yesteryear weren’t so different from us! The first Nativity scene was a living one featuring humans and animals cast in Biblical roles. As you might imagine, their popularity spread rapidly, particularly in Catholic countries. The purpose of these Nativity scenes was to re-enact the birth of Jesus based on the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Eventually, Nativity scenes evolved from live shows into artistic Nativity sets featuring statuesque models that were displayed indoors – first in churches and public venues, and eventually in our homes. In their simplest form, Nativity sets feature Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus resting in a manger. Nativities sets are often more elaborate, however, including animals, angels, shepherds, and wise men!
The display of Nativity sets remind us that Jesus is real – that His only Son lived and died so that we might have eternal life – and that by sharing His love, we give each other the real gift of the season.
No one has ever knocked on my door and sung a Christmas carol to me, but there’s nothing more inspiring than listening to Christmas songs that tell the story of the birth of Jesus from a biblical perspective. Even in churches that favor contemporary music most of the year, traditional hymns such as these can often be heard from angelic choirs during the holidays:
Hark The Herald Angels Sing – written by Charles Wesley (the brother of revivalist John Wesley and author of over 6500 hymns!) – is a classic Christmas song that’s rich in Biblical truths. There are so many scriptural references in this song (one or more in almost every verse) that you could do a Bible study on it with your kids! Other songs that accurately portray the message of Christmas include O Come O Come Emmanuel, Joy to The World, and O Holy Night.
There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to bring the sounds of the season into your home or to attend a special Christmas concert with your family!
The Christmas Story
Reading, re-enacting, and re-telling the story of how Jesus came from Heaven to live among us is the greatest story ever told –one that we have the privilege of impressing upon our children’s hearts throughout the Christmas season. We can commemorate the good news of Jesus birth by reading the actual historical accounts directly from the Bible in the gospels of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. We can encourage our kids to participate in Christmas plays so they gain experiential knowledge of what the first noel is really about. And, we can enjoy attending Christmas plays and pageants and watching Christ-oriented movies throughout the season!
Another way to share the birth of Jesus is through the wonderful world of Christian books!
For over 200 years, families have gathered on Christmas Eve to hear the much-loved words of Dr. Clement C. Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. This year, families can gather together to share the real Christmas story — the story of Jesus’ birth.
’Twas the Evening of Christmas echoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements’ poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on the baby Jesus, who is, after all, the true hero of Christmas. All families will delight in this simple retelling of the most famous story ever told. Even the cover of this special book comes alive with foil and sculpted embossing! The verdict is in: this book is sure to become a Christmas classic!
Can’t wait to dig in? Here’s a sample from the book!
‘Twas the evening of Christmas, when all through the town,
Every inn was so crowded, no room could be found.
Tired Mary and Joseph, who went door to door,
At last found a place on a small stable floor.
There are so many wonderful ways that we can celebrate Christmas. Whatever traditions you choose, I encourage you to keep the Spirit of Christ alive in your celebrations!
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What favorite Christmas tradition do you look forward to celebrating with your family each year? Please share your stories with our readers – we’d love to hear them!