The Meaning of Christmas

Meaning of ChristmasI think you have to have been born in the South to understand this, but there is a real connection between Christmas and snow. It’s almost as if snow validates the holiday. Maybe we’re just more romantic than people in other parts of the country, and we’ve really bought into the idea of a “white Christmas;” but every year, the entire South prays that it will snow on Christmas Eve. It’s not that we have horse-drawn sleighs anymore, as many Yankees would like to think; but we do like to remember them. Snow reminds us of how Christmas once was, a time of graciousness and charity. We wish we could get back to that, but we never do. And so the promise and joy of Christmas are always followed by a feeling of dissatisfaction and melancholy. Snow softens that.

The other reason snow is so important to Christmas is because Christmas is a medieval, European holiday in origin, and therefore needs medieval, European symbols to support it. The birth of Jesus took place in an arid, Eastern country. It’s very difficult for Westerners to wrap their heads around the birth of a Savior in such a foreign place. So we wrap the story in things we understand, like snow and Christmas trees and candy canes. Snow is like a white security blanket that we hold next to our heads as we suck our thumbs and gaze at the Nativity. Snow represents the purity of Christ that He has so graciously clothed us with. When we twist that image together with one of His righteousness – something else He’s clothed us in – we have the red and white of the candy cane, a beautiful medieval image that, like snow, helps to comfort and encourage us at Christmastime.

The great reformer Martin Luther introduced the Christmas tree into our tradition. But other than it, most of our holiday symbols are medieval and all point back to Christ and what He was born to bring:

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18

Christ’s sinless blood washed away our sins, which were as red as scarlet, and made them as clean and pure as His own. That is the gift of a tiny baby sent from Heaven and born into an evil world. The Wise Men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh pale in comparison.

Merry Christmas!

Waitsel Smith

 

 

Waitsel Smith

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Peg Broyhill December 20, 2016, 12:20 PM

    Beautiful scene and explanation of our symbols of Christmas!!!

    Thanks Waitsel and Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

    Reply
  • Phyllis December 20, 2016, 1:32 PM

    What a nice read and yes, snow on Christmas Eve is perfect and not to long ago that happened! Doesn’t look like it this year.

    You have yourself a very Merry Christmas 🎁 indeed. This time last year you and family were dealing with a lot but thank you God for your Son.

    In Love. Joy. Peace.

    Reply
  • Kipper Tabb December 20, 2016, 2:43 PM

    Great reminder, growing up in Miami, FL , we longed for White Christmas too!
    Miss ya Waits!

    Reply
  • Jean December 20, 2016, 3:31 PM

    I grew up in Michigan… and this year they are going to have a white Christmas with temps staying below freezing and even subzero… and lots of snow falling.
    Here in GA… I think it was last year that many folks had to turn on their air conditioners as it was so warm… looks like we may have rain in ATL this year… but whatever the weather… Emmanuel has come…

    Quotes of Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol:
    “There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

    “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

    “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
    ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

    Reply
  • Dave Brinson December 21, 2016, 10:15 AM

    Waitsel, Thank You for your words and heart in sharing on Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Reply
  • norm grey December 27, 2016, 6:26 PM

    Great observations, Waitsel! European culture…NORTHERN European cultural and its weather have certainly become a part of the Christmas Tradition. A BIG part. I think it’s even safe to imagine Jesus being a good deal more tanned than…and not quite as blond as Max Von Sydow.
    I also KNOW that in the Middle East, Jesus is depicted as a little more “Semitic” than in the West.

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