On December 25th, people from around the world will celebrate Christmas. In reality, some people began celebrating Christmas as soon as all the trick-or-treaters went home. The holiday takes on many forms and customs depending on where people are celebrating. In Australia, Christmas comes at the height of the summer. As a result, many people there hit the beach for a BBQ. In Mexico, as well as many other Latin and Hispanic countries, families celebrate Nochebuena on Christmas Eve which includes a huge feast, singing, and dancing. More religious observers may attend midnight Mass, but it’s always a time for family and togetherness.
In Slovakia and other Central European cultures, people celebrate Christmas by eating carp on Christmas Eve. Eating fish on Christmas Eve isn’t very unique. However, what is unique is that traditionalists let the fish live in the bathtub for a couple of days before preparing and eating it! They believe that the scales bring good luck and good fortune for the coming year.
No matter what unique traditions each culture brings to the Christmas holiday and how people choose to celebrate, the message of Christmas is the same. It originated a little more than 2,000 years ago in a cave in a distant, dusty little Middle Eastern town when God himself came to Earth. “For unto us a child is given, unto us a son is born.” (Isa 9:6) “Behold, the virgin shall give birth and he shall be called Emmanuel which means, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) The true message of Christmas is not about presents, a tree, lights, or fish in the bathtub. The message is about a baby in a manger that still brings salvation, hope, and purpose today.
If you celebrate Christmas, consider setting aside time this season to read the true Christmas story found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Never forget the central message: Emmanuel, God with us. He is with you, through it all.