Stories of Christmas …
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
“Every time a bell rings an Angel gets its’ wings.”
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
- Miracle on 34th Street 1947
For generations, the meaning of Christmas has been told in a myriad of ways. Through song, movies and tales, Christmas has become known as a season of gift giving, good cheer, and glad tidings. We all have a favorite holiday movie, song or quote that encapsulates, or gives meaning to the Holiday Season.
Beginning with Thanksgiving, the Holiday Season is a time of family traditions and religious observances formed around our faith and cultural heritage.
During the mid ‘60s and 70’s television featured annual animated “Christmas” programs with classics such as, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
Later, revivals of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Polar Express and A Christmas Story, hit the big screen continuing the theme of good cheer to all with classic lines such as;
“Maybe… Christmas perhaps…, means a little bit more.”
“You better watch out; you better not cry.”
- Kris Kringle, Santa Claus is Coming to Town 1970
And even, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
All are presented to remind us as to the lessons of the season. Be kind and appreciate those around us.
In a general sense, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season which for some faiths runs through early January. This period holds significance for many. The Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah has just begun, and in the coming days the Christian faith will observe and celebrate the culmination of the yuletide with Christmas, December 25th.
The selection of December 25th to observe the birth of Christ lies in some uncertainty.
Dating back to Constantine, when some claim Pope Julius I declared the 25th as the date of recognition, or others as nine months from the Immaculate conception, or the period before Epiphany acknowledging the arrival of the three wise men.
In the mid 1600’s the observation of Christmas in early America was challenged by Puritan beliefs and a desire to avoid what was perceived as pagan celebrations and overindulgence.
Despite this period, worldwide, and for centuries, Christmas has been recognized on the 25th of December, and declared a federal holiday in the United States in 1870.
From a cultural standpoint, Christmas and the Yule Season are celebrated and recognized in a variety of ways.
Advent Calendars around the world create anticipation and celebrations of Christmas Day. Marches of “Posada” in Mexico tell the journey of Mary & Joseph, while throughout Europe, festivals of trees, carnivals and St Nicholas Day resonate the message of peace on earth good will towards men.
Perhaps the most innocent and yet relevant mainstream telling of the meaning of Christmas comes from a young boy, who lost in the commercialization of the holiday, seeks psychiatric help to deal with his holiday depression only to be mocked by his friends while trying to convey the true meaning of Christmas through a Christmas pageant.
To his rescue is Linus who walks to center stage…
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’
(Luke 2: 8-14)
“That’s what Christmas is all about.”
- A Charlie Brown Christmas 1965