This past 2015 Christmas has been hell. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, of hope, of family, of love. From Thanksgiving on, we had sickness, ER visits, hospitalizations, and a death. That death has rocked my world as I lost my rock, my earthly world. I haven’t been able to grieve and deal, so I’m living day by day in an ever-turning abyss of hell. Despite the overwhelming waves that come crashing down, there have been moments of calm in the storm however brief. Through this storm, I’ve been able to see Christmas with a different view. I feel like I should have made some of these connections before, but honestly I never put thought into it. Christmas was about presents after all.
I learned I truly, deeply enjoy simplicity at Christmas in my home. I love tress with no ornaments and just white lights. I find it calming and serene. What started as my refusal to constantly put ornaments back on the tree from wandering twin toddler hands, and mischievous cat, and a hyper dog led to the realization a simple tree with white lights calms me. I find it more beautiful than a decorated tree. There’s power in calmness, especially when your heart screams for it.
Christmas is about family, despite the cliché response. Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters, not “ye peasants of mine”. His half-brother James became one of his most well-known disciplines. His older cousin, John the Baptist, was sent to prepare the way for Jesus.
Why are the “primary” colors of Christmas red, green, and gold? After my other realizations, I put thought into this one, with a little research on green to verify I wasn’t off based. Here’s what I came up with.
- Red represents the blood of Christ. It was the blood that gives us life. It was through His birth, blood flowing through His veins, that He became mortal, paving the way to God through Him.
- Green, in particular green trees, represent life. Trees survive the darkest storm, the roughest winter. In their life, they produce seeds which produces other life, so that when they do die, their life continues on.
- As mentions previously, gold represents kingship, but I think it also refers to the gold light of the star showing you the way to God.
While our tree didn’t have a topper, it finally dawned on me why angels and stars are used as tree toppers. The angel represents the angel that appeared to the wise men, proclaiming Jesus’s birth. A choir of angel also appeared, singing praises to God on the highest, our savior had been born. The star represents the star that appeared over the stable when Jesus was born. The three wise men used this star as a guide as they journeyed to see the baby Jesus, the new born savior.
Where does Santa come into the picture? The historical St. Nicholas was known for helping those in need. In one story, he gave a dowry, bags of gold, to three sisters, so they could wed and not be sold in slavery. These bags of gold were found in their stockings, hence the stocking connection. This “St. Nick” gave gifts to the needy; Jesus also helped the needy and poor throughout his life, but through His death, He gave the ultimate gift: the gift of eternal life.
He give gifts to symbolize the gifts in the story of Jesus’s birth. The ultimate gift was the gift from God in the form of Jesus, His Son, being born in the flesh as a mortal so that He could die a physical death for our sins, thus enabling us to have eternal life through Christ our Savior. This I mainly got, mainly, but what really hit me was the three gifts from the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Why these three?
- Gold represents kingship, which isn’t hard to believe. Any historical king (other than Jesus) or fairy tale king seems to have more riches than he knows what to do with, making us peasants jealous and envious (another topic for another time). How would it have been useful to Mary and Joseph at that time? Baby supplies, right? Maybe a decent room? How about ON THEIR TRAVEL TO EGYPT, thus escaping Herold (again thanks to an ANGEL)? HOLY CRAP, YA’LL. When I scanned that in an email subscription, that fact jumped out and hit me in the face. It was then I realized the three gifts had a purpose, not just random gifts the wise men had on them.
- Frankincense represents the priestly role of Christ. It is an incense specifically mentioned in the Old Testament. A mixture of fragrant spices was burned in front of the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments as well as the tent and utensils used for the high priest to meet God. In Exodus 30:34 KJV, God told Moses to combine “sweet spices (stacte, onycha, and galbanum) with pure frankincense.” Pure frankincense, used in perfumes, represents priests, was used to greet GOD.
- In Jesus’s time, myrrh was used as an embalming oil. On long treks, people weren’t able to take the dead with them. They had to bury them where they died. Myrrh was used as an embalming oil in this ritual. Extending this to the Christmas Story, Jesus was born to die for us. At his birth, Mary and Joseph received old used for/representing death in the celebration of life.
The myrrh wasn’t the only connection to death in the Christmas Story. When Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothing. What exactly is swaddling clothing? I just assumed it was some sort of blanket Mary had made. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Swaddling clothing was used to bury the dead on long treks. At birth, He was WRAPPED in material used to WRAP THE DEAD before burial.
So why only three wise men and three gifts? Shouldn’t the King of Kings have a lot of people celebrating his birth, worshipping him, bringing him present upon present? The symbol of three is used to represent the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. I find it ironic that the story of St. Nicholas has him helping three sisters.
- Biblical Archaeology Society Staff. “Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archaeology Review, 1 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/why-did-the-magi-bring-gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/
- “Bibical Magi.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi
- “Frankincense.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
- “Myrrh.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh
- “Who Is St. Nicholas?” Nicholas Center. St. Nicholas Center. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/
- Cooper, James. “The Colors of Christmas.” com. Whychristmas.com. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/colors-of-christmas.shtml
- Tait, Edwin, and Jennifer Woodruff Tait. “Why Do We Have Christmas Trees? The History behind Evergreens, Ornaments, and Holiday Gift Giving.” net. Christianity Today, 11 Dec. 2008. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/thepastinthepresent/storybehind/whychristmastrees.html
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