Christmas, in traditional Christian reckoning, is actually a twelve day season lasting from Christmas Day through January 5, the day before Epiphany. The season of Christmas, called Christmastide, is a season dedicated to celebrating Christ’s birth and specifically the doctrine of the Incarnation (the Christian belief that in Jesus God became man). This is an important time of the year for individuals and families to participate in annual rituals, customs, and practices. The power of these activities lies in their predictability (e.g. every year we sing “O Christmas Tree” while standing around the newly placed tree in our home). Here are nine ideas for how you or your family can observe Christmas this year, and perhaps, for many Christmases to come!
1. Don’t place the baby Jesus into your crèche set until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. This is a great responsibility to give to the youngest member of the family. However, all should be present for the “arrival” of the baby Jesus in the crèche set. This would be a wonderful time to read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible (Luke 2: 1-20) and to conclude the time with a simple prayer of thanksgiving.
2. At the main meal on Christmas day have a birthday cake for the baby Jesus and have all present sing the “Happy Birthday” song to Jesus.
3. Since Christmas is the celebration of God’s greatest gift to humanity – Jesus Christ. Christmastide is an especially appropriate time to give of ourselves to others, the greatest gift we can give. By yourself, with friends or family, volunteer in your local community to help those in need.
4. Go Christmas caroling on any or all of the twelve days of Christmas.
5. At the main meal of each day of Christmastide sing a Christmas carol before or after eating.
6. Attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service at your local church.
7. Don’t take your Christmas tree down until Epiphany (January 6) as a reminder of the twelve days of Christmas.
8. With family and or friends act out the Christmas story, putting on your own Christmas pageant.
9. Around a fire with hot cider or tea discuss where Jesus might be born today if He came now instead of 2000 years ago.