The Spiritual Significance Behind Our Earlier-Than-Usual Christmas Celebrations This Year By Tré Goins-Phillips for Faith Wire
I’m the one who’s been screaming “Santa’s coming!” since October, and for perhaps the first year in recent memory, most of America seems OK decking the halls just a little bit earlier.
At the risk of romanticizing the impetus for our speedy embrace of the Yuletide season, I think the reason is perhaps more spiritual than we know.
Holiday decorations are already gracing storefront windows, Christmas tree lights are glowing in our living rooms, and the songs of the season have begun wafting through the air of department stores. The obvious reason for our earlier-than-usual glad tidings is because it’s a welcome distraction from what has been a difficult and dreary year.
But I believe there’s a deeper motivation behind our embrace of Christmas this year. Perhaps more than ever, we are longing for Emmanuel.
That special something that makes Christmastime so innately appealing to us isn’t the songs or the decorations or even the food; it’s the profound realization of the radical truth that God is with us.
Here’s a little history lesson: our traditional celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 is actually rooted in paganism (yes, really). Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this. According to historian Kenneth C. Davis, the wintertime holiday was initially a pagan celebration of the solstice, which marked the day the sun returned and the days began growing longer. And placing decorated evergreen trees inside homes symbolized a “return to life” and “light” as the planet showed its first hints of shifting seasons.
So when Christianity became the mainstream religion in Rome, the winter solstice holiday turned into Christmas, a celebration of when God became flesh and blood and dwelt among us. The hints of the changing seasons are so faint, you might not notice them — unless you’re paying attention. The same was true of Jesus. In humility, the savior of the world was born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem when his mother Mary and father Joseph were denied a room at the inn. His entrance might have been meager by our standards, but His presence is triumphant.