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.
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.
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!