A Time Called…Christmas Day
For many, this is a truly wonderful day. It’s a day of family, of special and traditional food, sharing of gifts, conversation, and laughter. It is a day (unless you have little children in the house!) when time seems to run more slowly. The day has a drowsy, gentle pace. It is a day to think of the slow and gentle movements of Mary, Joseph, and the new baby, and the rhythmic breathing of the animals in a stable long ago.
Historical Roots of Christmas Day
It is not known exactly why or when December 25 came to be associated with Jesus’ birth. Some of the earliest references to the celebration of Christmas were not made until the mid-300s. The celebration of Christmas Day became more prominent after the crowning of Charlemagne in 800 and King William 1 of England in 1066. And – a curious little note from history – during the Protestant Reformation, some Puritans condemned Christmas celebrations as pagan, and in 1647 in England, Christmas was banned! After much rioting and many protests, it was restored in 1660. The Bible doesn’t give the date of Jesus’ birth. Some suggest that December 25 was chosen to stand against the Roman pagan festival of the Winter Solstice, which ended on that date. Others suggest that December 25 was chosen by counting backwards from the date of Jesus’ death, but calendars and calculations are inconclusive.
Finding Meaning in the Tradition
Christmas Day, despite its tumultuous past, has become for Christians a day of celebrating that the Messiah was born to the Virgin Mary. Christmas is a celebration of God joining us in a small, vulnerable child. This, of course, doesn’t “make sense,” making Christmas Day a time of great mystery. When God could have come to us in a blazing chariot or an earth-awakening UFO, this day causes us to ponder. Why did God come to us in a newborn child?
Questions for Personal Meditation
- Today, in the midst of activity, how can I find time to ponder the mystery of God’s coming?
- How is this day different from all the other days in the Christian year?
- When I crawl into bed tonight, what will I most remember about Christmas Day?
(Source: The Presbyterian Church in Canada 2007 – used with permission)