Appropriate Christmas Celebration Ideas
What do Messianic believers, especially those of us Gentiles with Christian backgrounds, do with Christmas? This has been a question I have been wrestling with as a Gentile learning more about the very Jewish message of God’s salvation for some time. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- When celebrating Christmas, focus on God’s forever gift to us, NOT what we want from someone else.
- Tell your children, grandchildren, or other young relations the story of St. Nicholas, NOT Santa Claus!
- Learn the significance of Hanukkah. Look for that information in a future post.
- Tell your family members and friends the story of Hanukkah and why it is significant for Messianic believers, both Jew and Gentile.
- Explain to your family members and friends that no one knows the date of Yeshua’s birth. But there are clues! (Get familiar with those clues.) I have posted some wonderfully helpful resources in my Torah! Torah! Torah! Group on Facebook.
- Keep the Christmas tree, especially with lights. Lose the Santa, sleigh, snowflakes, snowmen, gingerbread men, nutcrackers and anything else that can’t possibly have a tie into the real story of Messiah’s birth.
- Keep the Nativity scenes, but recognize that the Magi didn’t visit Yeshua until he was about two years old.
- Keep the angels and shepherds. That happened. Don’t put too much emphasis on the angels. Angelology is a risk you want to avoid.
- Look for Christian and Messianic vendors that sell Christian/Messianic toys, videos, books, and games. Be careful of those “Christian” products that build up people as more important than or equally important to God. I’ve seen these and shuddered.
- Limit your purchases to two gifts for each immediate family member. By immediate, I mean “living in your home.” Grandkids are the exception. But if you and the grandkids aren’t celebrating together, send each one a single gift. Everyone else gets a card. (Note: If you have a college student living outside your home, you can send them money to cover a NEED in your card, or in person, should he or she comes home for the holidays. Also appropriate for Messianic Jews is a Messianic necklace and/or a Tallit.)
- For every gift given to a family member, a matching gift should be given to someone in need. Food, clothing, household necessities, God-focused toys, books, or videos – the same as you would give to your own children – are appropriate. Donating to Christian or Messianic organizations in your loved one’s name is good too.
- Traditionally you won’t find outdoor lighting on many, if any, of our Jewish brothers’ and sisters’ homes. However, as Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, I see no conflict, especially if you use all white, or blue and white lights. I recommend keeping your lights simple, though. Let someone else in the neighborhood win the Best Holiday Lights award.
- Feel free to celebrate Yeshua’s birth on any or all potential holiday times:
- Yom Kippur
- Christmas (OK, we know that’s not a real date for Yeshua’s birth, but there’s an advantage to sharing our belief with others as we corporately celebrate Christmas)
- Hanukkah (Again, not a real date for Messiah’s birth, but there’s such significance to Hanukkah that many Messianic Jews celebrate the birth of Messiah then)
- Peshat – a far better term than Easter; however, I find celebrating a birth and a death on the same day downright gruesome. (Not to be confused with the joy of Yeshua’s sacrifice being turned into rebirth for all believers. But that’s a post of its own.)
- When you celebrate Messiah’s birth, celebrate His BIRTH, NOT His DEATH! There’s a real MIRACLE that needs to be given respectful acknowledgement: God humbled Himself and came down to earth as a helpless human baby in a world that both needed Him and rejected Him. This is LOVE! We need to focus on that. This is the long awaited MESSIAH! We need to focus on THAT! This is the initiation of the fulfillment of God’s PROMISE! We need to focus on THAT!! Let this be the beginning of the story you share with others. Keep them interested throughout the rest of the year and throughout the months until Peshat. Two weeks before Peshat, start your story about Yeshua’s last days so that the significance of Messiah’s death and resurrection is appreciated.
There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s BIRTH.
There is MIRACLE in Messiah’s DEATH and RESURRECTION.
And there are significant stories of MESSIAH’s LIFE and INSTRUCTION in between.
Let God’s story be told in a way that the listener can understand:
c. Death and Resurrection
- There are also feast days that will help you with the rest of the year. Learn and follow those as well. Pretty much, we Christians don’t do that. These are lasting orders for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and as Christians, I personally think it’s a good idea to experience these feasts at least once.
I believe this is the way to keep “Christ in Christmas.” We keep Him in our lives and in our hearts each day, one day at a time, throughout each season, day, each moment. That’s what it means to have God with us: Immanuel.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!