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Christmas steeped in tradition

Published 11:38am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.” Well, actually it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas sometime around Halloween! Oh, well.

Many of the decorations we use at Christmas are steeped in tradition and legend. I think it’s important to remember that legends are just that. . . a legend. A story passed down that is unverified, fun to tell, but probably not true. It’s important for our children to realize the difference between the legends of Christmas and the truth of Christmas. There are legends surrounding why we use evergreens, holly, candles, ornaments, stockings, poinsettias, mistletoe, and many others. However, the truth of Christmas is the birth of the Christ Child. It is not a legend or story. It is a fact.

That having been said, I don’t think it’s wrong to have fun with the legends and many times the legends do help reinforce the truth of Christmas. One of my favorite legends is the Legend of the Poinsettias. One version of the story describes a poor girl going to church on Christmas Day and not having an offering. Her brother tells her that any gift given in love would be acceptable to God.

Unable to find anything else, she picks some weeds and fashions them into a bouquet. She places them at the foot of the Nativity scene and they suddenly burst into beautiful crimson flowers with bright green leaves.

At Christmas the bright flowers of the poinsettias remind us of the blood Christ spilled for us. However, the legend reminds us that any gift given in love is special and Christ can take the ugliest soul and turn it into something beautiful. All we have to do is give it to Him.

Holly is another Christmas decoration that has a beautiful legend associated with it. According to one legend, a young orphan boy living with the shepherds heard of the birth of Christ and wanted to take him a present. As he walked he picked some limbs from a holly bush, which was brown and plain at that time, and wove them into a crown.

When the boy gets to the stable he starts to cry realizing how ugly and unworthy his gift is for the newborn King. Baby Jesus reaches out, touches the crown, and it miraculously turns bright green and the leaves become prickly. All the tears that fell on the crown from the boy turn to bright red berries.

The bright green of the holly should remind us of the everlasting life we have in Christ. The prickly leaves should remind us of the crown of thorns our Savior wore for us and the berries of His precious blood that He willingly spilled to save us from our sin.

There is another wonderful Holly bush legend. This legend says that as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were fleeing to Egypt, soldiers came after them. There wasn’t any place to hide, no rocks or caves. The only thing available was a holly bush that was brown and offered little protection. However, that night the holly bush suddenly became green and prickly, hiding and protecting Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.

Another one I found just this year is about the robin. In this legend the Robin starts out as just a little brown bird, however during the night as Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus lay sleeping their fire began to burn out. The little brown bird did not want Jesus to become cold so he flies down and fans the fire all night long with his wings. In the morning he is rewarded with a red breast as a symbol of his love for Jesus.

There are so many more legends; I could probably fill a book! Nevertheless, the point is when decorating our homes for the holidays we can easily teach our children the true meaning of Christmas.

I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

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