Today is Christmas Eve, 2020. Here are three interesting Christmas tidbits you might enjoy:
The Early Church Did Not Celebrate the Birth of Jesus
Many Christians today consider Christmas to be the most important celebration of the year, but that wasn’t the case for the early church. The most important date for Christians in the first few centuries was Easter, emphasizing the death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, Christians paid much more attention to the timing of a saint’s death – when they would receive their eternal reward – than they did the timing of one’s birth. Celebrating birthdays was a rather pagan thing to do, so Christmas did not really exist for the first 300 years of the church.
The Feast of Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, predated Christmas (the Feast of the Nativity). Over time, the Western Church and Eastern Church emphasized different things on Epiphany. In the West, Epiphany commemorated the arrival of the magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. In the East, Epiphany commemorated the baptism of Jesus by John.
There was a War on Christmas Way Before Today’s So-Called “Culture Wars”
All of us know the song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The “12 days” represents the time from Christmas Day (December 25) to Epiphany (January 6). By the time of the Middle Ages, the celebration of Christmas during those 12 days was marked by drunkenness and debauchery. The lower class would request food and drink from the upper class during the 12-day celebration. This activity came to be emphatically opposed by the Puritans who disagreed with any kind of Christmas celebration.
When Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector over the English Commonwealth, Christmas was essentially canceled altogether! Ironically, in contrast to contemporary Christian culture wars, Christmas was done away with by Cromwell and his fellow Puritans in order for Christianity to be pure and undefiled. Historian Mark Stoyle writes, “In January 1645 the final nail was hammered into Christmas’s coffin, when parliament issued its new Directory for the Public Worship of God, a radical alternative to the established Book of Common Prayer, which made no reference to Christmas at all. Thus the way was paved for the ‘anti-Christmas’ of 1645.”
But it didn’t last long. The arrival of King Charles II in 1660 also brought about the return of Christmas celebrations.
“Die Hard” is a Christmas Movie.
Just seeing if you are still reading. Merry Christmas!