Flashback Friday^2: Christmas and its Symbols

Okay, okay—it’s not Christmas.  But, hey, close enough, right?

There will be an actual Christmas post tomorrow morning, though it’s going to be very short.  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn “Flashback Friday” into “Flashback Friday^2,” angering mathematicians and calendar enthusiasts everywhere.

The original post in this “series,” “Christmas and its Symbols,” contains some excellent Christmas wisdom.  So often we hear Christmas denounced as a secretly “pagan” holiday because we hang wreaths, put up trees, and dangle mistletoe.  But as one meme I’ve seen recently put it (to paraphrase), “Yes, I love to display the trophies of my vanquished foes.”

Christianity sure did kick—and continues to kick—some butt.  We could probably do with some more warrior-monks running around with maces and clubs.

For this weekend and beyond, though, Jesus—as He always does—will do.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols“:

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 EveDaily 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:

CHRISTMAS SYMBOLS

“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.

Merry Christmas!

—TPP

7 thoughts on “Flashback Friday^2: Christmas and its Symbols

  1. Merry Christmas, Tyler, and to all your great readers/writers/posters.

    And a thank you to Audre, who introduced me to this wonderful site. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Merry Christmas to you, too!

      Tomorrow’s post is a short Christmas post with the Christmas Story from Luke 2:1-20. I also have included a link to your cheesy Christmas movies piece at TCW.

      Cheers to you, mate—and to Audre, Alys, Neo, and all the rest!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It has been said, most recently by David Starkey, that Catholics understand ceremony and Protestants are rubbish at it. I think that is mostly true, but Luther and Elizabeth I both managed to combine them. That’s why the High Church Anglicans and Lutherans have become what they are. It’s also why the post-V II Catholics are struggling.

    Starkey’s point was that all the ceremonies of the British monarchy are carryovers from the Medieval Catholic monarchy.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, Audre has a most touching post today on NEO.

    A Christmas Story

    Liked by 2 people

    • Catholics might understand ceremony, but Protestants know how to balance a checkbook—ha!

      Yes, it’s hard to deny the strong influence of Catholicism in the High Protestant churches. After all, isn’t the Anglican Church essentially a national version of Catholicism, independent of the papacy? And Lutheranism was an attempt to reform abuses within Catholicism, while also emphasizing Sola Scriptura and salvation by grace alone.

      I will check out Audre’s post. Her posts are always a blessing.

      Liked by 2 people

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