Written by Helen Nguyen, Assistant Business Manager
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on Dec. 25 by billions of people around the world. This is a Christian and cultural celebration that consists of church services, gift-giving, symbolic decorating and family or other social gatherings.
Rev. Matthew Smuts, pastor at the Grace Lutheran Church, described what Christmas means to the Christian religion. “In the Christian tradition, Christmas is very near the beginning of the year, and very near the beginning of things,” he said. Smuts says Christians look both forwards and backwards in observance of Christmas. “We’re looking backwards to remember the birth of Christ, which we observe on the 25th of December,” Smuts said. “We’re also looking forward—in the New Testament, Christ says that he’s coming again.”
Many symbols that are associated with Christmas stem from roots in the Christian tradition, especially since the holiday takes place on the shortest day of the year. “The idea of an evergreen tree at the shortest time of the year represents the questions of, ‘is spring coming?’ and, ‘are we ever going to get out of this?’” Smuts said. “A Christmas tree is a tree that seems to ignore the fact that it’s winter.”
Along with the classic, tall evergreen tree, the simple star stands tall and important at the top of the Christmas tree as an important symbol during the holiday times. “One of our hymns quoting one of the important readings at Christmas time refers to Christ as the ‘bright and morning star,’” Smuts said. Stars are symbolic in the way that they provide light, therefore representing enlightenment and guidance. “Stars are important in relationship to Epiphany, the story of the wise men following a star,” Smuts said.
Christmas is an important day in the holiday season and maintains a rich culture. Among the fun and festivities, Christmas is a time to show love and celebrate new beginnings.