Visitors from the East

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After Jesus was born, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus stayed in Bethlehem for some time.

It was about two years after Jesus’ birth that the wise men came from Mesopotamia in search of Jesus. These wise men were astrologers who studied the stars, and while they were studying the stars, God had revealed to them that a great king had been born in Judea, although they didn’t really understand who He was.

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Ebenezer and the Christmas Story

By the early part of the nineteenth century, Christmas [in North America] had almost died out. The Times newspaper, for example, did not once mention Christmas between 1790 and 1835.

pilgrimMany American settlers of the 1600s were Puritans, strict Protestants who believed that Christmas was a Catholic holiday and therefore not to be celebrated. And for the next 200 years, until the start of the 20th century, Christmas was not celebrated by most in America, and was celebrated quietly by those who did.

And in England under the government of Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1658, it wasn’t celebrated either. Though in 1660, two years after Cromwell’s death, the ban was lifted, and Christmas was again instituted as a holiday. However, from the mid-1600s to the end of the 18th century—almost 150 years—Christmas celebrations weren’t much like we celebrate today. It was during the Victorian era that so many of the holiday traditions that we currently celebrate were embraced. What changed? A lot had to do with one man writing a story about Christmas.

dickens.pngIn 1843, British novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870) wrote A Christmas Carol. Not counting the story of the first Christmas, it’s probably one of the most popular Christmas stories of all time. In his novella, Charles Dickens idealized a certain kind of Christmas that we now base a lot of our Christmas perceptions on. You might think that with him writing such a wonderful description of Christmas as celebrated by Tiny Tim’s family, that this was how most of England celebrated Christmas—the tree, the Christmas carols, the turkey dinner, the family togetherness, the gift giving. But not really. At least, not at the time.

“When we read or hear A Christmas Carol,” says Bruce Forbes in an interview with a regional radio program, “We are not seeing a reflection of what Christmas was like in his day; we’re seeing what Dickens would like Christmas to be.”

At the start of the 19th century, Christmases weren’t like what we see depicted in A Christmas Carol. “There was a lot of unemployment,” Dickens scholar John Jordan says. “There was misery, and he saw Christmas as something that tended to function as sort of a counterforce to the negative effects of the industrial revolution.” So, many thanks go to Charles Dickens for somehow looking beyond how Christmas was celebrated at that time and creating a vision of something better.

There’s nothing stopping you from creating your own Christmas traditions that have honest and special meaning to you.

Decide on wonderful things to do for those you love; bathe your actions in love—and you’ll have one of the best Christmas traditions ever.


Text adapted from Anchor. Image 1 by Vectorfree.com; other images in public domain.

Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends

This fun, festive Christmas edition of Treasure Attic is full of excitement, songs and surprises to thrill young hearts as they discover the miracle and meaning of Christmas.

Treasure Attic – Christmas Friends from L. R. on Vimeo.

A Spiritual Exercise: Opening the Door

Spiritual exercise for children for Christmas - opening the door of your heart

Examine the door upon which Jesus is knocking. There is no handle. It symbolizes the door of your heart, which can only be opened from the inside. Have you opened your life to Jesus? He will not force His way in. You must open the door yourself.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

If you have invited Jesus into your life, how welcome do you make Him feel? What place do you give Him now?

To help you answer this question, think about the other members of your household. You greet them in the morning. You are considerate of their happiness and comfort. When friends visit, you introduce them. You sit together and talk. You eat at the same table. How rude it would be to ignore them or to forget their presence.

As you remember Jesus’ birth this month, think about the place that Jesus has in the house of your life.


Image by Evans E/Flickr. Text adapted from Activated magazine.