Let’s be honest: Christmas has become the biggest commercial event of the year—not just for Christians but humankind. The “season of giving” has become retail’s real savior. But as worshipers of God, it’s important for Christian parents to teach their children well about the second most important day in the Christian calendar, Christmas.
Many Yuletide myths exist that may or may not have Christian roots, but they have become part of the rhetoric of Christmas, so much that most Christian parents may not even know what’s secular from what’s not.
Here’s a simple guide to what to tell your kids about Christmas.
- Christmas is about the gift of Jesus from Father God to the world.
The whole reason to celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus. 25 December marks the birth of Jesus Christ, who is all man and all God. Father God sent Jesus to save the world and to reconcile mankind to Himself—and there is no greater present than that! So we must always remember the true reason for the season is Jesus!
- There are two possible reasons why we put up Christmas trees.
One is that Jesus “hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13) when He was crucified, dying for our sins. The “tree” or the cross He hung upon is hence a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice to save us. Two goes back to the story of St Boniface (circa 675AD), who went around converting Germans to Christianity. He spotted a group of pagans worshiping a tree and got so angry he cut it down—in its place a fir tree grew, and St Boniface took it as a sign from God. The fir tree has since become a Christian symbol.
- The truth about Santa Claus is…
St Nicholas of Myra was a bishop (circa 300AD) who inherited a large sum of money and used his fortune to help the poor, as Jesus commanded. Santa Claus is a modern day interpretation of “St Nick” (as he is commonly called). The red suit that Santa wears reflects the red robes that bishops donned. Over the centuries, the image of Santa has evolved, but the roots of Santa Claus go back to a great Christian. Whether you choose to break the truth about Santa to your child (“Sorry, baby, but Santa won’t be riding his sleigh to our HDB lift lobby.”) or let him/her believe in Santa till he/she is older, that’s entirely up to you! (But do note that it’s likely classmates are going to break the news if you don’t!)
- Boxing Day is really for giving food to the poor.
Boxing Day falls on 26th December, the day after Christmas. A British tradition began in the 17th century where postmen and other service providers would expect a “Christmas box” of goodies from the people they serve without payment. It evolved into a practice where wealthy employers packed boxes of food, gifts and bonuses for their servants. It may be a worthwhile practice to teach our children to think of and find ways to give to those who are needy during the Christmas season. Some families practice giving donations to their family member’s favorite charities instead of a gift for that person. Others or go on year-end mission trips to bring treats and food to low-income families.
- We give presents during Christmas as a reflection of the three wise men’s gifts to Jesus—but let’s not forget the Birthday Savior!
Gift-giving is a great practice for drawing families and friends closer together—it is a time for remembering loved ones, selecting special presents for them, and spending time together in love. But while we give gifts to one another, we mustn’t forget the One whom we are celebrating: Jesus Himself. One thing we can do with our children is to celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday—bake a cake and ice it “Happy birthday, Jesus!” and discuss what present you are going to give Jesus (eg, do something nice for someone as a gift, make peace with an estranged friend). Simply bring Jesus to the center of all your Christmas celebrations.