I know it seems like I’m bashing on Santa recently. I know that Christ wasn’t born exactly on December 25th. The Christmas festivities actually have several pagan traditions at their core. These traditions, like tree decorating, make sense when you realize that Christ’s birth doesn’t really have anything to do with the holiday celebration. December 25th was chosen because it used to be a pagan celebration of winter solstice or something like that. I believe it was Constantine who decided it would be a holiday to commemorate Jesus’ birth and the date was selected to draw pagans away from their idolatrous worship to worship of Christ. However, Dec. 25th was chosen to celebrate Christ’s birth and is recognized by Christians throughout the world today.
I can’t really be upset over secular traditions “usurping” Christian traditions since December 25th didn’t really start out as a Christian holiday. However, since culture now recognizes this day as a commemoration of Immanuel, I like to observe the more holy aspects of Christmas.
I respect St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was an upstanding citizen who contributed greatly to society using his wealth. He should be recognized. To the extent that he is honored, rather than revered/worshiped by greedy children, I like the idea of doing a tradition that teaches children about him. My friend, Jamie, shared a link about how to celebrate St. Nick day on my Ho, Ho, Hope? post. Check it out.
I liked the idea of teaching kids the folklore associated with St. Nicholas and why he gained such popularity. I want my child to know that St. Nicholas’ actions were all performed in the name of Christ. In this manner, God holds his rightful place but the Saint is recognized and a child’s imagination is free to be engaged, differentiating truth from fantasy.
Thanks Jamie for that link.
St. Nicholas, I do think you were a pretty cool dude and Willow should know about you as a real historical figure.
American traditions of the jolly man creep Frank and me out though (as indicated in my last post of Breaking). We do think the tradition of coins in a shoe is a fun and simple way to teach children about generosity. A few simple chocolates are a more useful teaching tool about generosity than a surplus of gifts littering a tree’s stump, at least in my opinion.
So we are fine teaching the history of St. Nicholas, his impact on history, and even indulging in some pretend folklore, but because we do profess Christ, we want everything, everyday (holiday celebration or not), to be done in his name, not for or in our greed.