John Barnett Discover the Book Daily Devotional
<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - December 21

  • 2020 Dec 21



Christmas Traditions - Where Did They Come From?

Christmas is so full of wonder, meaning and tradition. But, where did all these things that we now call Christmas -- come from? Let's just briefly sketch the origin and development of what we now celebrate as Christ's Birth. 

The Biblical Celebration

The Dawning of Light: Luke 1:78-79

The Fullness of Time: Gal 4.4-5

The Mystery of Incarnation: I Timothy 3:16

The Christian Meaning to Ancient Traditions

December 25th was the Saturnalia Festival of emancipation, gift giving and the triumph of light after the longest night. The Christian sees the truth implicit in this pagan tradition that reflects: Christ the Light of the world, His triumph over the night of sin in Luke 1:78-79

Evergreen Trees were the symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life in Christ, by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas Eve lit with candles. Isaiah 6-:13

Candles are a picture that Christ is the Light of the world John 8

Holly speaks of the thorns in His crown Matthew 27:29  

Red is a color of Christmas that speaks of Christ's blood and death.

Gifts are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each of them speaks to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life, Bitterest Agony in Death and He as Gods Perfect gift to us. Matthew 2.

Mistletoe was an ancient symbol from the Roman times. It was under Mistletoe that old enmities and broken friendship were restored.  So Christ was the One who took away the enmity and gave us Peace with God. Romans 5:1; 8:1.

Bells are associated with ringing out news. Christ is the good news, the best news of all.

Christmas Eve is a time when we remember that Christ came in the darkest night of Earth's need to be the Light of the World.

Shepherds who were watching lambs for use as sacrifices in the Temple, were the first to hear the great news that the Lamb to end all sacrifices had appeared.

Christmas Pie is an old tradition that uses a Mince pie with various spices to remember the spices of the Magi. For centuries it was made in a manger shape. 

Modern Additions

In 1822 Clement Moore wrote a poem for children that has never been forgotten. It was entitled, "Twas the Night before Christmas..."!

Santa Claus is a Dutch word that is actually Sinter Claus, Saint Nicholas in English.

Saint Nicholas was the supposed early Bishop of a church in Asia Minor [the modern country of Turkey]. He became aware of some desperate needs in his congregation, and a family having to sell their children into slavery, so one night he came and left money on their doorstep. It was gold in a stocking.

Christmas Cards started in 1844. An English artist named William Dobson, drew up some pictures in England for use at this season. They found local use there and soon spread to America. In 1846 Cole and Horsley saw the commercial potential of this growing tradition and started the production of what is now over a $1,000,000,000.00 industry that sees 4 billion cards sent each year in America alone.        

Don't lose the Spiritual Depth of Christmas because of its Pagan association.

Don't miss the Spiritual Delight of Christmas because of the Commercial association.

Don't forget the Spiritual Despair of the World because of Christmas and its wonders.

Some challenges:

  1. Give a gift to Jesus.
  2. Like Christ, give to those who can't repay you.
  3. Pause to sense the darkness outside at night, and then thank God for sending the light.
  4. Read the Scriptures to your family.
  5. Start some traditions that point to Christ.
  6. Enjoy this wonderful time of the year, don't lose the season for the rush.

To continue to read this message please copy and paste this URL into your browser bar:

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit
Listen to Dr. John Barnett at

More Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett Articles