Myth: The Wisemen Visited the Baby Jesus
The imagery of the Magi is locked into the minds of most as being present at the time of Jesus’ birth. Bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myhrr we see them in nearly every Christmas movie depicting the Nativity as right there was Mary swaddles the Baby Jesus in the manger.
But that’s not how the Bible tells the story.
The wisemen first visited Jesus when he was living in a house, not a stable. And the scripture says he was a child, not a baby. Look it up, it is in Matthew 2:11.
This is just one of many myths associated with The Magi.
Myths: All Christians Celebrate Christmas
Nope, not true.
Jehovah Witnesses famously do not celebrate Christmas. But they are just one of many in a long line of Christians shunning Christmas.
Christmas has been banned in the name of religion for hundreds of years. The age of the Reformation is largely credited with the Calvinistic teachings that the Roman Catholic church adopted the pagan symbols and traditions of Winter Solistic and changed them to teach the story of the Nativity and to support their belief in the Divinity of Christ.
History is replete with Christian sects who have banned Christmas at one time or another. Even today there are Christian groups who claim that Santa is an anagram for “Satan” and that Christmas trees are banned by the Bible.
Myth: The Bible Condemns Using Christmas Trees
There is great truth to the fact that Christmas trees are more pagan in origin than Christian. Pagans used evergreens liberally during their December celebrations of the Winter Solstice. The evergreen is highly symbolic for many reasons: it is unchanging and it survives the dead of winter. To many ancient pagan societies which depended upon favorable seasons to grow food the evergreen represented hope, eternal life, fertility and good luck.
Split amongst the many recorded factions of Christianity are groups that either embrace pagan symbolism and adopt them with added Christian themes — or they shun them altogether claiming things like Christmas trees, mistletoe and Yule logs are an abomination to God. The biggest whopper told is that the Bible itself forbids the use of Christmas trees. In Jeremiah, it reads:
For the customs of the people are vain; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with an axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. — Jeremiah 10:3-4
There’s just one problem.
Jeremiah predates even the pagan use of evergreens and he was centuries ahead of the first Christmas tree. How can the Bible ban something that didn’t even exist at the time?
Like so many things the scripture in this case is taken out of context. Jeremiah is speaking in context of idols and there is no way anyone can claim that a Christmas tree is an idol.
Myth: Santa Claus is NOT Real
School children the world over lament the revelation that Santa Claus is not real. It happens earlier for some than it does for others. Usually it is a schoolmate who breaks the bad news that breaks hearts.
But here’s the truth: Santa Claus is very real. He’s old. He’s got a few wrinkles. And his story has been mixed up a bit over time. There is a lot that is untrue about him. But he is very real.
Born in Asia Minor in a former area of Turkey known as Patara nearly two centuries ago Nicholas was born of affluent parents who had the nerve to up and die on him before he was ten years old. He spent his remaining growing up years under the direction of kindly village priests, who did a very good jobn of documenting Nicholas’ history.
Myth: Xmas is a Way to Take Christ Out of Christ
Social media memes, indignant letters to the editor and false media reports every year advance the myth that the word “Xmas” removes all reference of Christ from Christmas and is an offensive term to those who hold the day sacred.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
“X” is the Greek symbol for Christ and the word “Xmas” dates back to the earliest days of Christianity. It literally puts Christ IN to the phrase Christmas.
In fact, for centuries, people have written “Xian” when referring to Christians, Xmas is used neither out of disrespect nor to take any religious aspects of Christmas out of the word or holiday. The word is usually used simply as an abbreviation. With text messaging more popular ever, it’s a word that’s likely to stick around for a bit, just like Christmas itself.
Myth: Christmas Wasn’t Celebrated in America Before 1800
The broad assumption of many people is that Christmas wasn’t celebrated in America prior to 1800. They often cite the work of Washington Irving as evidence that St. Nicholas didn’t make his splash in New York until after Irving’s work was published in 1809. Most often the reason for this assumption is because the city of Boston famously banned Christmas way back in 1659.
But even then America was a big place.
Columbus first brought Christmas to the Americas in 1492.
And while they were banning Christmas in Boston, they were celebrating Christmas in Jamestown some 500 miles south.
In fact, as more and more came to the New World they brought their version of Christmas with them. For most, this meant some sort of religious observance. French traditions of Christmas were prominent during the 1700s in the deep south of New Orleans. Pennsylvania Germans celebrated Christmas, some of them even with Christmas trees decades ahead of when they became widely popular in the mid-19th century.
Morovian settlers in Virginia celebrated a festive Christmas in their tradition in the 1600s and 1700s. Even the Christmas traditions of George Washington and family are well documented by historians dating back to 1759.
Myth: Christmas wasn’t celebrated before Christ
Yes, it was.
The Bible is full of references to the birth of Christ centuries before he was born. Seeing that the Bible dates back more than 8 centuries before Christ it is simple to see that Christmas was celebrated in advance of His coming. Isaiah, who wrote of Christ nearly 800 years before the Nativity, penned words in scripture that almost any fan of Christmas will recognize: “…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace…” Isaiah 9:6
Complicating the argument amongst historians and scriptorians is the fact that many pagan traditions are mixed with religious traditions in the celebration of Christmas. Long before Christ pagans engaged in a number of winter festivities celebrating the Winter Solstice. Their use of evergreens and traditions of merry making were “adopted” by early Christian leaders who attempted to teach the divinity of Christ by making these ancient traditions “fit” with the story of Jesus.
The bigger question doesn’t lie in the fact that pagan societies celebrated anything. The big question is why? What gave them the idea in the first place? T
Myth: Happy Holidays is the Politically Correct Way to Say Merry Christmas
This is perhaps the most modern Christmas whopper going: all over social media folks now slam the term “Happy Holidays” as an offensive alternative to “Merry Christmas”.
Modern media outlets that use the holiday season are largely responsible for advancing this myth. Political activists who engage in removing the religious symbols of the season from public and government property in the United States in order to advance their views of separation of Church and State are ALSO largely responsible for this myth. The annual debate, known as the modern “War on Christmas“, divides Christmas-loving peoples who just want to celebrate Christmas in their own way.
The American Family Association and the Liberty Council, two familiar names in the War on Christmas, fight efforts to remove references to Christmas in schools and public property. To advance their agenda they publish names of businesses that refuse to use the word “Christmas” in their advertisements and signage. This too perpetuates the myth that somehow “happy holidays” is a substitute for “Merry Christmas”.
There is nothing remotely offensive about “happy holidays”. December is a time of many holidays inclusive of Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and several saints’ feast days. It is entirely appropriate to wish someone Happy Holidays, especially when you do not know what their holiday proclivities might be.
Myth: Christmas Creep Begins Earlier Every Year
Christmas Creep is a term bandied about in the media that describes the arrival of Christmas-related merchandise in stores. The media claims it shows up earlier and earlier each year.
That’s a myth.
Christmas merchandise is available year round in many specialty stores. But in mass merchants such as WalMart, Costco, Target, Kmart and others the complaint is that the stores keep bringing in Christmas merchandise earlier every year.
Here’s the truth: Christmas merchandise begins to arrive in back rooms of all sales floor as early as June. Most stores begin merchandising it right after the 4th of July. This has been a common practice since the early 1980s.
Because summer is winding down and back-to-school signals the fall selling season. While many stores begin displaying some Christmas products in the peak of summer it is usually on a limited basis and intended more to cover holes in other seasonal merchandising sets as it sells down. For example, as demand for garden and patio products wane in the summer months WalMart begins to showcase some Christmas merchandise.
However, full displays of the total Christmas product line usually doesn’t happen until after Halloween.
Why do the retailers do this?
As the advent of massive home Christmas displays has grown over the years so too has demand increased for more of these outdoor Christmas products increased. A typical light display of 20,000 lights or more usually is accompanied by Christmas themed inflatables, blow-mold plastics, or wood and metal crafted accessories — everything from Christmas trees to snowmen. Planning for such large displays usually means having to buy these items well in advance of the season.
Do the early merchandising dates mean that these big stores actually sell more Christmas products? Hardly.
In fact, retailers frequently refer to the period of time between Back-to-School and Halloween as a “holiday showcase” — where new products are often displayed in an effort to drive future sales.
If Christmas Creep were really an issue as the media makes it out to be consumers would be seeing more impulse gifts, ready-wrapped products and fresh Christmas items (from foods to evergreens) ready to sell in August. But that just doesn’t happen.
Christmas creep is a myth.