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FAITH: Happy Birthday to Jesus!

Karen Stevens

It’s Christmas, all ovvveeer again.

That is the chorus to a Christmas song, which makes me think the song writer is not thrilled for Christmas to come around once again.

We have gotten so far away from Jesus’s birthday that I really don’t enjoy the Holiday that much anymore either.  When my kids were little, I would bake a birthday cake, and we would sing happy birthday to Jesus, so it would remind them that we were exchanging presents in honor of Jesus.

In our secular, post-Christian society, children and young people seem to know less and less about the Christian story.  But we might imagine that Christmas is at least the one time of year when Jesus is the center of our attention.

Many children, after all, take part in nativity plays, and others will attend school assemblies and visit churches about the meaning of Christmas.  But a study of 1,000 children – five to twelve-year old’s, (by Brent Cross shopping Centre), shows that children are remarkably confused about the reason for this season.  Thirty Five percent of those surveyed, believe that Jesus was born at the South Pole, and 52 percent thought that December 25th was Santa’s birthday.

When asked about Jesus, one in five thought that he was a footballer for Chelsea FC, with others assuming he was an astronaut, or “X-Factor” contestant.

A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say, “Christmas should be more about Jesus.”

Those looking for more Christ in Christmas are significantly fewer than four years ago.

2014 LifeWay Research study found 79 percent of Americans at that time said Christmas should be more about Jesus.  While similar numbers disagreed in 2014 and 2018 (18 and 19 percent respectively), the percentage who said they were unsure if Christmas should be more about Jesus jumped from 3 percent four years ago, to 16 percent today.

“Saying Christmas should be more about Jesus is a little like saying Thanksgiving should be more about giving thanks.  It’s in the name of the holiday,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.  “Yet, it appears there is less cultural expectation for celebrations of the Christmas holiday to include the religious aspect.”

December 25th is not the date mentioned in the Bible as the day of Jesus’s birth; the Bible is actually silent on the day, or the time of year.

The earliest Christians did not celebrate Jesus’s birth.  Why would they?  They rejected Him as their King.  They did not know who He really was.  As a result, there are a number of different accounts as to how and when Dec. 25th became known as Jesus’s birthday.

By most accounts, the birth was first thought to have taken place on Jan. 6.  Why?  Nobody knows, but it may have been the result of “a calculation based on an assumed date of crucifixion of April 6, coupled with the ancient belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception,” according to religionfacts.com.

By the mid-4th century, the birthday celebration had been moved to December 25th.  Who made the decision?  Some accounts say it was the Pope; others say it wasn’t.  Some say it was Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date.  It really doesn’t matter.

What matters is the celebration of Jesus’s birthday; not Santa, not presents, not a tree or decorations.  We mourn and celebrate Jesus’s death at Easter because of what it represents to us as Christians.  We can have Grace, because He died.  We can have salvation, because he was born!  Happy Birthday Jesus!

Karen Y. Stevens, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels