Christmas is really two holidays. The Christmas we see in stores and on TV, the Christmas of our culture, and the Christmas that Christ followers participate in. The lines get blurred sometimes, and they have the same name, but they really are two separate things.
As someone who has grown up with both Christmases, so to speak, it was important for me to understand how the Church has participated in the seasons of Advent and Christmas so that I could follow the Christmas of the church more and the Christmas of the North Pole, Elf and Rudolph less.
I shared some of my thoughts on this in an article published yesterday on Relevant entitled “The Important Things Church History Taught Me About Christmas.” An excerpt:
Having grown up in the midst of the grand march of commercial and materialistic Christmas to become a three month binge on lights, presents and sweets, it would be easy to accept this as the new normal. There are a few options here: you can embrace it and become that person who plays Christmas music starting right after Halloween, you can act as a crusader against the watered-down Christmas you see around you and display your “Jesus is the Reason” bumper sticker proudly, or, well, you can just kind of go with the flow.
There is another way though. We could go back to celebrating and thinking about Christmas the way so many Christians did before us. And if we start to celebrate Christmas the way it was celebrated hundreds of years ago, we will begin to have a more well-rounded picture of what exactly it means to celebrate a holy God who came in the flesh as a poor, crying baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem so many years ago.
Read the rest of the article on Relevant today. And to help you celebrate Christmas the way it has been throughout Church history, you can download my eBook: O Antiphons: Prayers for the Advent Season.