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The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story, The Antioch Report

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Christmas has become a worldwide holiday that many people, Christians and otherwise, celebrate around the 25th of December. What started this tradition, and in what way does it intersect with the Christian faith?

Luke 2:4-19 is where all the “away in a manger” song variations come from. The virgin Mary was told to expect her first born, Jesus. So Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth to Jesus. There in the animal barn “she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.”

Queue all the Christian Christmas melodies we know and love.

So how did we get from the story of Jesus to Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves on shelves, and Mariah Carey’s whistle note?

  • 90% of Americans and 95% of Christians celebrate Christmas.
  • Over 2 billion people in more than 160 countries celebrate Christmas.
  • Even in non-Christian cultures where Christmas is not celebrated, you can often find Christmas decorations during the holiday season.

When Was Jesus Born?
It was probably not December 25th. Early writers and philosophers (Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus) think he may have been born on March 28, May 20, or June 2 (quite the spread!).

Christmas
The word comes from Christ + mass. There may be a connection to Luke 2:29 but the etymology is only suggested.

Xmas
“X” is the Greek abbreviation of “Christ”. When people say “X”mas, they are not removing Christ from Christmas. It’s exactly the same thing, different language. (XPICTOC = ch-r-i-s-t-o-s).

Santa Claus
Born around 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey, legend says he traveled throughout his region helping the needy with his inherited wealth. Other characters in history such as Christkind and Kris Kringle inspire our modern day Santa Claus, the “Father of Christmas”.

Rudolph
Can’t talk about Rudolph. Too soon. 

However you and your family choose to celebrate the Christmas season, we hope you’ll find peace and joy remembering the reason for the season.

And as you prepare for Christmas weekend, here are 10 Christmas sermons to bring some inspiration.

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Daniel Berk

Daniel Berk

Daniel Berk is the Managing Editor at The Antioch Report. A student and teacher of the Bible, he is a lover of theology, church history, and... TV. Follow him on Twitter @danielcberk. Daniel and his wife Courtney reside with their Bernedoodle in Charleston, SC.

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