Christmas Traditions

First and foremost, let me offer this disclaimer: regardless of your preference or lack thereof, I in no way judge nor disparage. Some of you celebrate Christmas, some do not, to some religious and others secular. This post is in context to traditional christian practices and only my own personal comfort zone, alone. As a christian, I do not judge other christians nor think less of them for their practices.

Do you have special family holiday traditions? I’d love, love, love it if you’d share them! I’d love to collect these for a post, share them and tag them to your blogs. It’d be fun to see how others celebrate and generate ideas that we may like to try with our own families.

My brother, sister in law and their girls bake and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus each year. My Stepmother would get together with her mom and make copious amounts of tamales. Friends of mine always attend a midnight candlelight service. So few, go caroling these days but most will go out to view christmas light displays. My cousins always watch “Lonesome Dove” during the holidays. Ok, my eyebrow cocked at this one but…whatever. lol My brother and his family in Florida often serve dinner at a shelter. Clay and I spent one Christmas cooking, delivering and serving brunch at our local homeless shelter. Being completely alone in a new place at christmas that year, the welcome and warmth of those dear souls gave us a “family” Christmas too.

As for me, perhaps I’m jaded or maybe just grown old. I question things and weigh the validity and logic. I hate the way it’s all become so commercial….go in debt to give outrageous amounts of.. well, crap, to already spoiled kids, go deeper in debt buying for adult kids, grandkids etc that are both grown, employed and can fully afford to buy whatever they want themselves and do! It’s madness!

I wish for bygone days where gifts were made by the loving hands of friends and family and worked throughout the year, a bird house, cedar chest, knitted mittens and scarves. I think I would cherish them more for the love that went into them.

And, where is Christ in this new age season? While “St Nicolas” may have exhibited the spirit and attributes of Christian character, he hardly resembles the jovial red clad dumpling on his sleigh…flying reindeer , talking snowmen, etc. It’s as though there are two very different holidays happening at once. So…how do you keep Christ in Christmas?

I, myself am in a unique position. I am more MJ leaning in my faith. (Messianic Judaism) Though raised in ordinary tradition and have such warm memories of childhood christmases past, I prefer not to have a christmas tree. However, Clay and I married later in life. He had much younger children and we were faced with meshing not only our families but traditions.

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I didn’t feel that it was right to come into this family and take over, controlling what and how they celebrate and how he and his ex-wife raised their children. I knew they didn’t worship Baal and the tree held no pagan connection to them. In turn, I was given respect in my tradition as well. He puts up his christmas tree with the only stipulation being that he doesn’t ugly up my house. Lol. If you’re putting up a tree, at least make it pretty. For me, I have a menorah and we gather as a family, lighting the candles with blessings and messianic readings.

Hanukkah

Known as the feast of dedication. It is a time to reflect on G-ds dedication to us, even to the point of that He sent His son to pay the penalty for our sins with His life. It is also known as the festival of lights.

The Menorah

The Menorah is a small replica of the lamp stand that stood in the temple and burned day and night as a symbol of the light of G-d. Just as the temple was rededicated, those who celebrate Hanukkah, also rededicate themselves to the L-rd. It is the perfect time to withdraw from the frantic pace of the season to focus on the L-rd with your family as you light each candle and remember that G-d calls us to BE the light of the world and keep the hope of Christ alive

When we had children at home, for eight nights, my husband said the blessing and a different family member would present the reading and light a candle. In later years we’d have to do it all in the single night we all had together.

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The Blessing….spoken by the head of the household before they light the Shamash, the Servant candle:

Blessed are you O L-rd our G-d, who has given us holidays, customs and times of happiness, to increase our knowledge of you and to build up our faith. Blessed are you O L-rd our G-d , who has granted us life, sustained us and permitted us to gather this evening with friends and family to celebrate your life and your light.

The Menorah has eight branches. An additional candle sits in the center, higher than the rest, set apart (Holy) from the others. This candle is called the Shamash, The Sevant Candle. All the other candles will be lit by this candle. The menorah is sat in a window and the lit candles burn until they burn out. While I’m offering but a short minor version here, I’ll draw you a simple mental picture…. Yeshua (The Shamash) is the light of men, therefore all the other candles (just as the believers) are lit by Him. The menorah in the window, shines this light out into the world, a testament of Him, lighting up the darkness and a reminder of His light though us should spread throughout the world

I’ve included the scriptures here though there is a Blessing spoken first, the scripture and a lengthy reading follows prior to lighting the candles.

Shamash (Servant) Candle
Messiah Yeshua stated in Mark 10:44-45 “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the
servant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many”
First Candle
Genesis 1:3-4- describes the creation of the first light: G-d said, “Let there be light”; and there was
light. And G-d saw that the light was good; and G-d separated the light from the darkness
Second Candle
Exodus 13:21-22 reveals that the L-rd G-d is the source of Israel’s light: And G-d was going before
them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them
light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor
the pillar of fire by night, from be fore the people.
Third Candle
King David reminds us in Psalm 27:1 The L-rd is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The L-rd is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? And Psalm 18:28 For you wilt light
my lamp: The L-rd my G-d will lighten my darkness.
Fourth Candle
The Psalmist declare Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path and
in Psalm 119:130 The opening of your words give light; it gives understanding unto the simple.
Fifth Candle
Messiah Yeshua is the greatest light of all: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 4-5). As Messiah
Yeshua was in the Temple in Jerusalem watching the illuminating lights, He declared: “I am the
light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life”
(John 8:12). Aged Simeon was promised by the L-RD that he would not die until he saw Israel’s
Messiah. When he saw Yeshua as an infant in the Temple, Simeon declared: “My eyes have seen
Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).
Sixth Candle
After we come to know Messiah, we are to be a source of light for the world. King Messiah tells us
in Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do
men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all
who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Seventh Candle
Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light is come, and
the glory of the L-RD is risen upon you. (2) For,
behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross
darkness the peoples; but upon you the L-RD will
arise, and His glory shall be seen upon you. (3) And
nations shall walk at your light, and kings at the
brightness of your rising.
Eighth Candle
Revelation 21:22-25 And I saw no temple therein: for
the L-rd G-d the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the
temple thereof. (23) And the city hath no need of the
sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory
of G-d did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.
(24) And the nations shall walk amidst the light
thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory
into it. (25) And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there).

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Light has no shadow. G-d is light and in Him there is no darkness. 1 John 1:5

44 comments

  1. I make donations to charities, usually chikdren’s or animal charities, in lieu of giving or receiving presents with humans.

    For NYE, I put at least $1 outdoors so I can “bring wealth into the home in the new year.” When I can, I also leave $1 bills and some kind of NY present for most of my neighbors (usually prosecco but last time it was vouchers for a local crafted ice cream shop).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nowadays, the closest I come to a tradition is tring to see at least one vintage Christmas movie (Wonderful Life, Bishop’s Wife (Cary Grant version), Miracle on 34th, White Christmas, etc) on a big screen… but they’re getting harder and harder to find.

    The tradition that I miss is my mother’s homemade Mexican Wedding Cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes, aka pecan sandies covered with powder sugar). We’d eat them in the morning whike ooening presents and without fail, someone would accidentally inhale some powdered sugar and start coughing like crazy. It’s a weird thing to miss but I do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha Oh I know what you mean! I love those cookies and when you said someone would instil the powdered sugar, I laughed out loud! Lol. You certainly gave me the gift of an old memory too!
      Thank you so much!🤗💕

      Liked by 2 people

  3. There is no Christmas without “Home Alone”. Just kidding. But it has become our Christmas tradition to watch that movie.
    Midnight mass and I have a love – hate relationship. I hated it as a kid, then loved it as a teenager (staying up late, meeting up with friends, etc.). Now… I’m rather neutral.
    You are spot on on the going crazy over gifts and the decoration madness. The Spirit of Christmas is really what matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a lovely post Laura! I grew up going to midnight service. We gather early, opened presents and at midnight we would all go to service. I haven’t done that with my own family in a couple of years now. My health condition has me a bit limited in the hours that I am able to stay up until my body starts to shut down.
    Love the history of the menorah and the readings, thank you for sharing!

    I’ve nominate you for this tag … 🙂

    https://momlifewithchiari.com/2018/11/30/3-2-1-quote-me-challenge-3/
    Ana

    Liked by 1 person

      • They are phenomenal! Thank you Laura! Yes, traditions make for the fondest of memories.

        I’ve developed some of my own for my own family. One of them is, on Christmas Eve, before the family gathering begins, the children will finally bring out baby Jesus and place Him with our nativity set, they all will get an instrument and we will sing him Happy Birthday. On Christmas Day, I will prepare our ‘special breakfast’ with eggs, waffles, pancakes, filled with lots of toppings from chocolate chips to banana slices and strawberries, whip cream, bacon, sausage, orange juice, pineapple juice, coffee, the works! It’s our special morning to celebrate the Saviors birth, after that we are ready to open the final presents, the stockings. 😊🙏🏽

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve gone to a couple midnight services.. I think 1 ea Christian and Catholic. And a few Passovers, back when I had a Jewish BFF. I’m not religous but I enjoy checking out rituals and everyone is soooo welcoming at this time of year! I recently learned of a mosque not far from me but haven’t stopped by yet.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. What a joyful and informative post! I didn’t realize you were “MJ”–so rich, to keep your heritage and traditions, and add the living Messiah to it all, God bless you! I love the idea of making a b’day cake for Jesus–I never thought of that 🙂 And you mentioned “Lonesome Dove”–if it’s the original, I can relate as it’s a fabulous mini-series. I really appreciated you providing the meaning/symbolism of the menorah candles, Laura–what a blessing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We are a blended family, and have been re-evaluating our traditions for years, trying to reduce stress and put the emphasis on gathering. Christmas Eve was traditionally our gathering slot but as children marry, have their own children, this becomes more difficult, so now we pick a non-holiday date and gather, potluck style, skip the presents (except for the little ones) and play board games – so our celebration is filled with light and laughter.

    In recent years, my son married a Muslim woman, and as a contribution to our celebration, her mother sent Baati’s – pyjamas – for all the women, so now we’ve made pj’s part of our traditional attire.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Omgosh! I love that! I completely understand the difficulty getting together. We have five, all grown and none living in our state. First, they divide holidays between our home and our exes homes, them marry and now have to add spouses parents too. It just gets harder each year. I like your solution though! How wonderful that your daughter in laws mom, although not the same religion, is so kind and thoughtful! Isn’t that a beautiful lesson we can all learn? We can be different and remain caring.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Your post was very interesting Laura.

    I do think some people go all out on the shopping for gifts and indulgent food – I have always understood people needing a big cheer me up during the depths of winter. It’s always nice to have time off work and with those you love most.

    It seems that some people celebrate the same celebration but with completely different feelings, traditions, and meanings as their neighbours.

    I have already heard carols being sung locally about Christ being King over the whole world and bringing peace…I wonder how many people stop and think about a world government with an incorruptible ruler who has proven his love for mankind.

    I just wish with all my heart that everyone on earth had love, peace, joy and a wonderful network of family and close friends all year round. There are so many things I wish for the human family. Sigh!

    Liked by 3 people

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