I love decorating my house for Christmas. And I love seeing all the decorations around town and the neighborhood. I especially love looking at the houses that go all out. You know, Clark Griswold style. There’s one in every neighborhood. And I’m glad it’s someone else’s house.

We know that outfitting our homes with decorations is fun and helps the economy, but have you ever wondered where the various ideas and traditions came from? We have pretty much managed to tie in various pagan and secular traditions with Christmas themes. I think it’s fine to decorate with trees and lights and poinsettias and plastic deer, just as long as we remember why we are celebrating. The birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter that He was probably born in the spring, just as long as we celebrate it.

In fact, Christian leaders from long ago—in an attempt to get people to recognize Jesus and become a Christian—often used established celebrations and traditions. Late December was a time that people celebrated the solstice. You can imagine a need for people who didn’t have central heating or refrigerators to have one big blast in the middle of a dreary winter to celebrate life with food, burning logs (Yule log), bringing the only tree that lives during the winter into the house as a sign of life, and singing. The days were short and the winter was long for them. So why not establish Christmas, a time of celebrating salvation (life everlasting), of giving (Christ’s gift to us), and of love and cheer during that time? I love it for all of those reasons.

And plastic Santas with twinkling lights and blow-up reindeer are cool, too.

What?

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