Christmas traditions are as varied as the families and cultures that celebrate it. Everyone who observes this special season has a tradition or two that make it stand out from the rest of the year.
Christmas in Mexico is celebrated from December 12th to January 6th, and involves acting out Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, life-size nativity scenes, and poinsettias, among other traditions. Fireworks are popular on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day in Egypt is observed on January 7th, but from November 25th to January 6th Egyptian Christians fast just about everything except vegan food for 43 days. A special Christmas church service is held late at night January 6th through midnight, and after that service, everyone goes home and has a huge meal containing many foods that were fasted in the days leading up to Christmas.
Here in America, we decorate homes and yards with Christmas lights, and put up Christmas trees in our living rooms. Many Christians attend Christmas Eve candlelight services. Gifts are opened first thing the next morning, and there’s usually a huge Christmas dinner sometime Christmas Day.
Christmas traditions vary by culture, but isn’t it amazing that Christmas itself has gone around the world? Some may not know the true meaning behind it, but Christmas really is for everyone!
Today is Christmas Eve in America, December 24. In reading Luke 24, I was struck by the word “all” in verse 47.
“And he said, ‘Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.'” (Luke 24:46-47).
At Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. Why? Because of his birth, death and resurrection, all who believe can have new life! It’s not just for a select few, or even a chosen people group. It’s for “all who repent,” of any nation, race, or language.
This theme of “all” is not new. In the book of Luke, it shows up in Chapter 2, when the shepherds hear the good news: “But the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people‘” (Luke 2:10).
And hundreds of years before that, this inclusive nature of the Gospel was prophesied in Scripture.
“And you will be a light to guide the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).
“He says, ‘You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth'” (Isaiah 49:6).
As you celebrate the Light of the World this Christmas, know that you are in a vast family of believers that spans the globe. We may be far apart in distance, but we are all near the Father’s heart together! Won’t it be joyous when we all get to heaven, and can worship our Savior together with one voice?
Merry Christmas, my friend!
This concludes my daily thoughts on the book of Luke. Stay tuned for my next post, and I’ll see you again in a few days!
Image by Theo Q from Pixabay