It’s Christmas! Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus. Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.
Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day. God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.
Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:
It’s Christmas! Imagine “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” played on an uptempo French horn and a crackling fire. That’s how I imagine Christmas morning—like a 1970s Christmas variety show.
In all seriousness, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. Christ is born! It’s a day for celebrating His Birth with family and friends. Just like the Wise Men of yore, we exchange presents to celebrate (and to stimulate the economy).
Just in case you’re not in the spirit yet, here’s another glorious French horn piece, a medley of Christmas tunes, performed by an ostentatious octet of horns!
On Christmas Eve, Daily Encouraging Word, a daily e-mail devotional, featured this wonderful little piece, “Christmas Symbols.” I couldn’t find a way to view it as a webpage, so I’ve reproduced the entire devotional here:
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Eph 1:7 NKJV Today, some people are trying to remove any public mention of Christ at Christmas, while others seem bent on secularizing it completely. So let’s look at the meaning of some of the Christmas symbols. The small holly berries are thought to have originally reminded Christians of the drops of Christ’s blood caused by the crown of thorns He wore on Calvary. The evergreen trees speak of the promise of never-ending life resulting from His resurrection. The Celtic cross has a circle surrounding the intersection of the vertical and horizontal axis of the cross. Some believe it originated with St. Patrick, who, upon seeing a round symbol of the moon goddess, drew a Christian cross over it—changing a Druid symbol into a new symbol for Irish Christianity. In the same way that St. Patrick adopted a pagan circle and gave it a new meaning, so other Christians adopted the evergreen wreath and gave it a new meaning. When early Christians changed the Roman winter solstice of the rebirth of the sun (originally on December 21), to a celebration of the birth of the “Son of Righteousness,” the evergreen wreath was adopted. Instead of simply being a garland, the round Christmas wreath now speaks of the never-ending unity and fellowship we have with God through Christ. So when you hang a wreath on your door or over your fireplace this Christmas, remind yourself that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro 8:39 NKJV).
Symbols are powerful—something we evangelical Protestants tend to forget, but that our Catholic and High Church Protestant brothers and sisters understand. Every tin-pot atheist and modern-day Puritan (they didn’t like Christmas because they thought it was a Papist invention) points to the pagan observances that fall on or around Christian holidays as “proof” that either a.) Christianity is invalid or b.) that we’re all secretly worshiping the Winter Solstice and Sol Invictus.
Gimme a break. As the DEW devotional demonstrates so simply, Christianity reinvented and re-purposed those symbols. Like Saint Patrick superimposing the Cross on the symbol of the Celtic moon goddess—demonstrating Christ’s all-conquering power over principalities—Christians have adapted Christ’s message in a way that different peoples in different places and times can hear and understand it.
A colleague of mine tells me that the Vikings ultimately converted to Christianity because they were impressed that missionaries kept dying—eagerly!—to spread the Gospel to them. A bloody form of conversion, but that conviction impressed the deeply pagan pirates so much, they converted. I’m sure the nitty-gritty details are far more complicated, but the gist of that little vignette rings true.
Regardless, today is a day to give thanks to Our Savior for coming to us those 2000 years ago. Let that be the motivation behind all of our yuletide merriment.
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One thought on “Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols”
Thanks for the link. As is obvious, I dearly love the O Antiphons, and your point is valid. Patrick did so superimpose but it is also true, the Cross itself, either as the crucifix or the empty cross of many in the Evangelical world, was also taken from the secular world. It’s analogy today would be if a new religion adopted the electric chair as its sign, except that the cross was a far more cruel way to die.
The legend about the Viking is likely at least partly true. My ancestors always had a profound respect for bravery in the face of death, as the sagas all show, and has also come down in our societies, as well. That is where honor resides, in defeating a worthy opponent. Or, in fact, losing to one.
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