Advent comes from a Latin word which means "coming," and the season (which begins this Sunday, November 29) proclaims the coming of Christ and builds each week toward the celebration of the nativity on Christmas Day. Here are some questions about Christmas you may or may not have wondered about, and some answers, too!
"Is December 25 really the day Jesus was born?" Answer: no one knows. What is clear is that Christian leaders in the year 336 set the date on December 25 to eclipse a popular pagan holiday in Rome that celebrated the winter solstice.
"Why do people give each other presents on Christmas Day?" Answer: The tradition seems to have started with the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. It must be said, however, that no one was really in the habit of exchanging elaborate gifts until the late 1800s. In 1867, Macy's Department Store in New York City stayed open until midnight on Christmas Eve, and the retailing phenomenon in America during the 20th Century made gift-giving central to the Christmas tradition.
"What does mistletoe have to do with the Christmas story?" Answer: absolutely nothing. In fact, because of its passionate pagan roots, there was a Christian ban on mistletoe in effect through the Middle Ages.
"What exactly are the 12 days of Christmas?" Answer: These are the days that separate Christmas Day from Epiphany, celebrated on January 6. This January date marks Christ's baptism, and the day that the wise men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts.
"What is the name of the innkeeper in Bethlehem?" Answer: An innkeeper is never mentioned in any of the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. We just assume that there must be one.
We look forward to our worship during the special days of Advent and Christmas!