5 Christmas Traditions to Remember

6

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and all the leftovers have been gobbled down, we can set our
eyes on Christmas. What a wonderful time of year! Everyone is full of cheer and goodwill toward others! No wonder it’s America’s favorite holiday according to CNN.

------------- | For more great articles like this, subscribe to Children's Ministry Magazine. | -------------

I love the different traditions families and churches have during this time. The tradition I share with my kids
every year around this time is our Old-Fashioned Christmas Party. We go outside at night and roast hot dogs over a campfire, families decorate Christmas ornaments, and kids hear about Jesus’ birth while on a hayride. In honor of all our Christmas customs, here are some news and notes about five classic Christmas traditions I found interesting.

***

1. Charlie Brown. You have to be a blockhead not to love the classic Charlie Brown holiday specials. This year It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving won their timeslots. I love the fact that an almost 40-year-old cartoon beat out shows like Survivor and The X-Factor in the ratings. This week, ABC aired A Charlie Brown Christmas and I hope it did as well as the others. I actually showed it to my kids last year so they could see Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas while quoting the Bible. Consider grabbing the DVD and showing it to your kids as well! Fun fact: the show almost never made it to air. Not only did the CBS executives not like it, a cartoon character quoting the Bible seemed sacrilegious.

2. Candy Canes. A classic Christmas tale about the Christian origin of candy canes has been around for a while now. We actually have a modified version of the story on our website that you can use to tell the story to your kids. In case you haven’t heard it, the story says an Indiana candymaker invented the J-shaped candy in order to teach kids about Jesus. It’s a fun story that I think is great to tell, but it’s also completely made up. The researchers at Snopes busted the myth a while back. So use the story and candy canes as a sweet reminder of the real gift of Jesus–just remember to call the candy cane story a legend.

sunday school

Kids LOVE these Sunday School resources!
Check 'em out and see why so many children's ministries around the world are having success with Group's products!

3. Elf on the Shelf. A new tradition for many families is the Elf on the Shelf. It’s become so popular that the elf had his own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year! If you haven’t heard of it, the nutshell explanation is parents move around an elf doll who watches for naughty and nice boys and girls every day. Kids hear a story about how the elf moves around at night and reports to Santa at the North Pole. I bet you could turn this idea into a ministry activity by having a pretend elf bring in different items that represent Jesus’ birth. For example, your toy elf, who is on a mission from Santa to tell others about Jesus, could hide candy canes for kids, and then you could tell the candy cane story previously mentioned.

4. Santa. In the last issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine, we reported that about 66 percent of parents say Santa is important to their Christmas celebrations. And 75 percent of parents report their kids believe in Santa. (Source: Fox News; ivillage.com) We have a poll out now on the front page of our website that asks people “What do you tell kids who ask if Santa is real?” As I am writing this, 25 percent say they tell kids Santa is real, while 38 percent tell kids to ask their parents. My first year of children’s ministry, we had Santa stop by. We had our kids go see “Mrs. Claus” for cookies and milk while she told them about Jesus’ birth. Afterwards, kids met Santa and we took pictures for their families. No one seemed to mind, but we never did it again. How do you handle Santa in your ministry? Let us know in the comment section below!

5. Nativity Scenes. ‘Tis the season for lawsuits and fights. It’s amazing how many news stories are coming out with cities under fire for having a nativity display. One town stopped their 60-year Christmas tradition of putting up a nativity scene because last year an atheist put up an anti-God scene nearby, resulting in debates and argument. Now that city is being sued for not allowing the Nativity scene on the city’s property. Search “Nativity lawsuits” in Google, and over a million other similar stories will appear. Now, I am extremely interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Is this a sign of the times? Is it no big deal? Has your city dealt with
religious side of Christmas becoming taboo? Let us know in the comment section below.

***

While you are planning your Christmas celebrations, make sure to check these fun, child-approved traditions from around the world. Whatever you do this Christmas season, may God bless you and your ministry!

Share.

About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.

6 Comments

  1. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Helmut Egesa Wagabi on

    Christmas is such a lively time in my place,Kenya.Much of the excitement takes place in the rural areas where many people go for the holiday. The nativity scene is usually acted by the children in the morning service and there are many other concerts presented in the afternoon to engage the believers and prevent them from straying to many other harmful events taking place simultaneously. Chicken stew and Chapati/ Steamed Rice is the delicacy of the day in many homes.

  2. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Virginia Toussaint on

    I have told my kids that Santa the man is not real . He is a myth but a great part of the Christmas holiday. I tell them that the spirit of Christmas is very real though and that is the spirit of love, family, charity, and kindness. This spirit grows very large during this time of year because it is the time of year we celebrate the greatest gift to mankind. The gift of Jesus Christ. He came to bring us So much we could go on for hours talking about all Jesus has given us. he is the true reason for the season. They accept that answer and I have never had any complaints about it. Kids are smarter then people give them credit and they know sponge bob and spider man are not real but still love the stories and to watch them on TV. So what's so bad about them knowing that Santa is not real but a fun part of Christmas. I think that knowing that the generosity comes from real people they know everyday is better and makes them want to be a givers too.

  3. Children's Ministry Magazine

    I'm so disheartened by the "elf on the shelf" stuff being added to the Santa stuff, about magical characters watching for kids being good or bad. And no way, no how is either one going to be taught to kids at our church! The gospel is about grace, not about naughty-or-nice lists – there ought to be at least one place where kids hear that consistently. (And rather than fight about nativity scenes at town hall, why not put up a nativity scene on the big church lawn? Nobody is won to Christ by our suing people to agree to our cultural dominance.)

  4. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Linda Granberry on

    I was glad to see Sue's comments. I was appalled to see that "elf on the shelf" was being promoted here. I think that even if I were not a Christian, I would find this practice offensive. Do our kids really need to think an elf is mysteriously moving around their home, where they should feel safe and protected, ready to "rat" on them – I don't think so. And to try and bring that into Sunday school class and relate it to Jesus is, in my opinion, very wrong. And I also agree with Sue regarding the nativity scenes – I see maybe one church in our city that puts one on their lawn for the community to see – I wonder why?

  5. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Linda Granberry on

    I was glad to see Sue's comments. I was appalled to see that "elf on the shelf" was being promoted here. I think that even if I were not a Christian, I would find this practice offensive. Do our kids really need to think an elf is mysteriously moving around their home, where they should feel safe and protected, ready to "rat" on them – I don't think so. And to try and bring that into Sunday school class and relate it to Jesus is, in my opinion, very wrong. And I also agree with Sue regarding the nativity scenes – I see maybe one church in our city that puts one on their lawn for the community to see – I wonder why?

  6. Children's Ministry Magazine

    I haven't had any kids asking me about Santa but I have been wondering what my response will be if they do ask. I would tell kids to ask their parents if they want to know if Santa is real but I would also want to explain to them that Christmas is really about celebrating Jesus, not gifts, not Santa. When I was growing up, I knew who Santa was from movies and advertisements but I never believed in him and my parents never told us that Santa would bring us presents. I knew that it was my mom and dad who hid the presents under the tree.
    I have also been surprised about the Elf on the Shelf tradition. I had never heard about it until a few years ago. A lot of families practice this tradition and I don't know how to gently address the issue with the kids or parents. When kids tell me about their elf I just smile and nod but what I really want to do is go to the parents and gently ask them why they are lying to their kids? Instead of getting their kids to be good for an elf and Santa I would encourage them to teach their kids to grow up in righteousness because God calls us to be blameless and holy. My parents didn't tell me to be good so that I could receive presents, they taught me about Jesus and how we are to live our lives for Him and that we are to love others. When I don't tell parents this, I feel like I am just letting the kids live in a lie.
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to gently address this with parents and families?

Leave A Reply