Now that the Christmas season is upon us, I thought I might spend a minute talking about Christmas and Christmas traditions. As you may know, a lot of what we celebrate at Christmas has very little to do with the birth of Jesus. Now, I'm not one to then say that it's wrong to enjoy those traditions, but I think it is important to separate the traditions of Christmas from Christ.
The early church marked the birth of Christ at different times, but by the fourth century the date selected was December 25, in part to divert attention from the celebration of the pagan holiday of Saturnalia.
Saturnalia was a week-long religious feast which began on December 17 and continued through the winter solstice. Candles were given as gifts. So were clay images or charms meant to encourage the return of the sun's power after the winter solstice. Like our modern Christmas celebrations, it involved parties and merry-making.
Today it seems Christmas traditions have overwhelmed the event, and even Christians often forget the reason for the season. Each year at Probe, we make available a Christmas Quiz to those who request it. It tests your knowledge of the events surrounding the birth of Christ. I'm always amazed as I talk to people who use it in their families and Sunday School classes. Most of us seem to know more about the traditions of men rather than the Word of God. We are pleased to make our Christmas Quiz available on our web site. (If you don't have web access, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the message GET HTTP://WWW.PROBE.ORG/DOCS/XMASQUIZ.HTML) And this season, I hope you truly will remember the reason for the season.
I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.
© 1998 Probe Ministries International