Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored


Christmas Traditions: Part 1 – What do I celebrate?

Christmas is a worldwide holiday season and has been for 100's of years, and it has picked up and given birth to too many traditions to count or explain! Many times Christians get worried that they are bringing too much commercialism or even pagan religion into their homes, since there are not clear lines between Christian traditions and other parts of the season.

While I may carry on this theme for a bit and explain a few of my favorite traditions, I wanted to start with a bit of general advice related to this issue. So here are my top 3 encouragements to anyone evaluating Christmas traditions:

(1) Personally adopt or invent traditions that you enjoy and give them meaning that reflects Jesus, not simply Santa or giving gifts.
The reason we don't know the meaning of traditions is that people stopped explaining it. Take time to explain your traditions every year--make them meaningful! The point is not, "what traditions have non-Christian origins?", rather, the question is, why do you do these things? Christians have stolen tons of things from nonChristians and used them for a worthy cause. Martin Luther used to steal bar songs and rewrite the lyrics into worship hymns. what matters is whether you make each action spiritual.

(2) Don't be a hater.
Just because you don't like a tradition or don't think its a good one, doesn't mean you need to make others feel bad for doing it. We are trying to express Jesus love. When Christians go around bashing other people for not being "Christian enough" in their celebration of Christmas, all people hear is, "You suck. God is a hater who judges you for petty things like Christmas lights"

(3) The celebration of Christmas is about God giving us a gift we did not deserve.
If you want to celebrate Christmas to it's greatest emphasis, make sure you take time to serve people who need help--even if they don't deserve or ask for the help. Make traditions out of hosting people for dinner who aren't the kind of people you'd normally go out with, paying for someone's lunch behind you in line, or serving a soldier who's returning to Fort Campbell this Christmas without holiday plans. Basically, celebrate Christmas by going to an extreme to serve others with your time and money. That's the best Christmas tradition.

Remember, there's nothing in the Bible that tells us to celebrate Christmas. The church created this tradition and season because we wanted to focus on Jesus arrival and the kindness of God.

Also remember that the world celebrates Christmas entirely differently than we do. Ask someone from another country how they celebrate Christmas. It may just open your eyes and heart to something new!

10The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. 11Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. - Luke's Gospel, chapter 2

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