by Philip Cook (in Costa Calida Chronicle, December 2023)

My wife and I have a cushion in our house which was given to us as a Christmas gift – and it reads ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’.

But in truth, 25th December was a pagan holiday where they celebrated the rebirth of the sun, which would lead to longer days after the winter solstice and followed the Roman festival, Saturnalia, during which time people feasted and exchanged gifts.

It is believed that in the reign of the Roman emperor, Constantine, the church in Rome formally celebrated Christmas day in the year 336.

The truth is we do not know on what day of the year Jesus was born, but we now celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25th December.

Many of the traditional things that we do at Christmas originate from this pagan past. Decorating the tree or perhaps a sprig of mistletoe over the door, and through the exchanging of gifts – these were all things that would take place during this pagan festival.

This has now been turned around to celebrate Jesus’ birth. For instance, the holly branch with its red berries once held a meaning too vulgar to describe in this magazine, can now be used to symbolise Christ’s crown of thorns and the blood He shed for our sins.

In Isaiah 9:6-7a (written 600 years before Jesus was born) it says: “For to us a Child is born. To us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom.”

Now over 2,000 years after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, which is the city of David, we continue to celebrate His birth.

So, this Christmas as we open our gifts and decorate the tree and celebrate, let us stop for a while and thank God for Jesus. That He would send his Son to be born in a stable, who would then grow up and live a pure life; go to the cross for us and die to take away our sins. If we would believe in Him, we would have everlasting life in heaven.

Jesus really is the reason for the season, and every season!