No, not a Who, as in Dr. Seuss, or the SpongeBob episode called "Christmas Who?", I'm talking about the "who, what, where, when, and why" of Christmas. We hang up socks? Weird. A "jolly prowler" comes down a chimney to bring us presents? And there's a baby in a barn.....? Yikes, what a strange holiday!
Raising kids today means figuring out how to reconcile "Jesus Christmas" with "Santa Christmas". Do you just tell a kid "Santa doesn't exist!"? A child will still see him everywhere, and wonder....and besides, Santa is real....sort of.....
Get ready for a little holiday history lesson! Stick with me, it's so fascinating!
In the 14th Century, a Greek bishop named Nicholas was known for secret gift giving. The main story that is told, the "legend" as it was, is that he secretly gave money to a man who needed dowries for his 3 daughters, and the money Nicholas secretly gave fell into the socks the women had hung to dry (in a window, or on a fireplace, no one is sure).
Word spread, and soon, children were leaving their socks (or wooden shoes) out in hopes that Nicholas would give them a gift. When he became a Saint (and his feast day set as December 6th), children started leaving their socks (or wooden shoes) out the night before.
P.S. Saint Nicholas is Sint Klaas, or Sinterklaas in Dutch....does Sinter Klaas sound familiar....? See, I told you he was real!! : )
Now, lets look at the Catholic church. In 274, a Roman emperor established December 25th as the feast of the unconquered sun. This feast occurred at the same time as the winter solstice, and was adopted by Christians following the council of Nicea in 325 (by the way, St. Nicholas was a part of this first council), and it was given a new meaning. Instead of celebrating the "unconquered sun", Christians celebrated the birth of Christ who is the "light that shines in the dark; a light that darkness could not overpower" (John 1:5). They called the mass they would hold on December 24th, the Christ Mass (otherwise known as....Christmas).
Enter the Protestant reformation!
In 1517 when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and the Protestant reformation began, much of Europe became protestant, and rejected the Catholic faith, included Saints, such as Nicholas. However, children don't care much for reformations (I am being a bit cheeky), and the practice of gift giving continued, as well as holding the date of december 25th for celebrating the birth of Christ.
Germans adopted the practice of having Kristkindls (does that sound familiar? Like Kris Kringle? It translates to "Christ Child") as a way to prepare for the coming of Jesus by encouraging them to see Jesus in others. They would pick a name out of a hat, and throughout the advent season would do something special for that person without them knowing who it was (the Germans were also the first to start using a Christmas tree-they originally hung it from their ceiling!).
The British celebrated with a figure known as "Father Christmas", and he was not always an old guy! The puritans that emerged from the Protestant Reformation condemned almost anything from pre-reformation times, especially things that encouraged people to be indulgent. So, as the arguing over what to do increased, those who still believed there was a place for the older traditions, often personified Christmas (the event, which was not celebrated because of the reformation) as a kind, older man, a father figure, who was given to good cheer, but not to being excessive. They referred to this personification as "Father Christmas".
Wait, what about Hanukkah? What about it? It is a completely different holiday than Christmas and celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus would have celebrated Hanukkah, by the way, as he was a Jew.
"The Festival of Dedication then took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's portico" (John 10:22-23).
Hanukkah starts around the end of November and lasts for 8 days and nights.
Immigration now plays a big part in Christmas and our Holiday season as people from all over Europe were coming to America and Canada. Just like our villages, towns and cities are melting pots of culture, so are we melting pots of Christmas!
The baby Jesus, Sinterklaas, Kristkindl, Father Christmas-no matter who you think Christmas is about, it is ultimately a season for celebrating, for brotherly kindness, for giving, for loving. It's a time to re-connect, to share, to reflect.
This season is a mash-up of cultures, of ideas, of celebrations. You can't ignore Santa, or Jesus in this season. There are (really) two separate holidays we are talking about, and I think for kids to know that our modern day Santa Claus is a version of a real, caring, loving man, is not a bad example to have. We should talk about him! And teaching them that there was also a baby born, who was to be the saviour of the world, that's important too! Connecting them by saying that the nice man who gave gifts was being a follower of this Saviour? Perfect!
I think the central message of every holiday tradition is love, and that really is universal, and should be celebrated, no matter what.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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