As the holiday season comes around, it is very easy to get distracted with all the traditions and festivities that surround it and lose the true meaning of Christmas.
Many of the things we associate with Christmas — from Santa Claus, to gifts, candy canes, nativity scenes and Christmas trees — can tie back to Christ and the gospel story.
Most people know that Santa Claus is based on Nicholas, a Bishop of Myra, who inherited a large sum of money from his parents and was famous for his kindness to the poor and gift giving to children.
What most people don’t realize is that Nicholas temporarily lost his bishop title for beating a man at the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) for speaking against Jesus’ deity. He had a burning passion for God and his truth. He would stifle any blasphemy that arose.
However, because Nicholas was so loved by the people, they gave him his title back. He was eventually sainted, becoming St. Nicholas.
He was a real man who promoted real truth and fought against real enemies of the faith, and he eventually became legendary.
The gifts given at Christmas also symbolize salvation, not only in the ties to St. Nicholas, but from the birth of Christ.
In Matthew 2:11, the Bible talks about how the wisemen brought gifts to baby Jesus — gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
However, those were not the only gifts in the stable that night.
The baby himself was a gift to the world. A gift that brought hope and salvation to a world lost in sin.
Candy canes are a favorite treat associated with Christmas that can point to the true meaning of Christmas in many ways.
The funny hook shape represents the shepherds that were watching on the blessed night. If you flip the it upside down, you’ll see a “J” representing the name of our savior, Jesus Christ.
The colors symbolize the sacrifice and salvation that Jesus would bring.
The red representing the blood of Jesus as he sacrificed himself for our sins, and the white represents two things — the purity of the savior and his sacrifice washing us white as snow if we believe and repent.
Even the popular nativity scene points to more than the birth of the Christ.
Take everything away and you are left with just an empty swaddling cloth.
An empty swaddling cloth much like the one that Peter would have found in the empty tomb in Luke 24:12.
The nativity scene points to the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death.
Christmas trees are another symbol of Christmas that are often seen as a pagan tradition, but it actually points to Christ and the salvation story.
Christ loved us so much that he willingly gave up his life, was hung on a tree and died for our sins, much like how every year families across America hang decorations on a tree this time of year.
The fact that Christmas trees are traditionally evergreens also points to the everlasting life made available to all through Christ’s sacrifice.
Rather than being distracted by the traditions of Christmas such as Santa, presents, candy, decorations and trees, these should all point us to the birth of Jesus Christ, to his great sacrifice and ultimate victory.