Christmas is certainly upon us! With this year’s shorter Holiday season, many families have gone into overdrive as the weeks are filled with Christmas parties, concerts, and any assortment of family traditions that fill our time and energy at this time of year.
Few things symbolize Christmas for the world as much as the cheery figure of Santa Clause. His image is printed on wrapping paper, Christmas cards, promotional material, and even the napkins at many Christmas parties. “The Night Before Christmas,” written during the 19th century, has influenced pop culture’s understanding of this holiday in such a way that often has crowded out reason we celebrate this holiday at all – the arrival of the promised messiah in the small town of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Santa Clause’s origin isn’t in a poem or children’s story, however, but rather is rooted in the history of a real person, St. Nikolas.
Many families still celebrate Saint Nicholas day even today, where they remember the story of a prominent Greek believer who exhibited extreme generosity for those around him – moved by God’s generosity to be generous himself. For the families that celebrate this day, it is a time for them to remind their children that the reason we give gifts to each other this season isn’t because of a marketing scheme by retailers, but rather because we remember the gift given to us – not just in the manger of Bethlehem, but on the cross of Calvary.
This Christmas, as you chuckle at the dancing Santa dolls, get in long lines with your kids or grandkids at the mall, or as we gather around the family television to watch Miracle on 34th Street, take the time to remember why this figure is such a part of our celebrations – it is a reminder of what God has given us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
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Zach Kellner is the Associate Pastor of Worship at FEFC