Here are five facts about Christmas that you may not know about.
Can you imagine being fined for observing Christmas or saying “Merry Christmas”? In fact, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Puritans or Protestant Christians had a war on Christmas. Any kind of “merrymaking” was out of the question. England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, so the Puritans of New England followed suit. For a time, Christmas was outlawed in Boston and the Plymouth Colony.
I thought this was funny when I read about it, but President Theodore Roosevelt actually banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1901. Why? Because he was an environmentalist. But we should be glad about that because Teddy Roosevelt is credited with the national parks we have today, having added 5 more parks and 18 national monuments to that list while he was president for the enjoyment of future generations.
The Real Santa Claus
Santa Claus is based on a 14th-century bishop from modern-day Turkey and from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, whose name is a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas. At the time, he was known as Bishop of Smyrna and Nikolaos of Bari. He lived during a time of great poverty, so he felt compelled to give away a lot of his wealth, primarily to the poor. If there were children involved, he was even more generous. I think “Sinterklaas” would be appalled at the commercialism of Christmas, which he never observed, and seeing his depictions in commercials today.
The First Decorated Tree?
Reportedly, one of my heroes of the faith, Martin Luther, was the first to decorate a Christmas tree. Apparently, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree that he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children, which they loved (fire risk as that was!).
Recycled Christmas Trees?
One of the most bizarre things I discovered was that many zoos feed donated Christmas trees to their animals. Can you think of a better use than to recycle them into feed for animals? There are also a lot of people around the world who take their old Christmas trees to recycling centers, and some turn them into bug-repellant mulch.
Let me say with as much emphasis as possible, the greatest fact of all is that Jesus came to Earth to save us from God’s wrath. Jesus was with God; of course, Jesus is God (John 1), and the world beheld His glory. He came to be Immanuel (God with us) through the birth of a virgin, and He lived a sinless life. By this, He could make His own life the perfect sacrifice to God, which satisfied the wrath that God has for all sin. If you are reading this and you have never repented and trusted in Christ, Christmas is really meaningless; it’s just another commercialized vacation from work with lots of parties and gifts. I strongly suggest to anyone not yet saved to repent today of your sins, turn around and go the other way from them, totally forsake them, and then then put your trust in Christ. That decision absolutely overwhelms any other fact there is.