Christians throughout most of the world celebrate Christmas on December 25th as an annual tradition honoring the day our Savior Jesus Christ was born on earth. Christmas, perhaps more than at any other time of year, is a season where the world unites to remember this most sacred event and when people strive to put into practice the teachings of Jesus such as love, charity, self-sacrifice, kindness, and patience. Christmas is an ideal time to ponder the true meaning of Jesus’s life and teachings and to center our attention on the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to remember the blessings of the infinite and eternal Atonement.
The gift-giving customs associated with Christmas is a mix of Christian and secular origins. Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew describes a visit by “wise men from the east” sometime after Jesus was born who saw the new star and came to worship the new born King of the Jews. The wise men brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which they bestowed on the baby Jesus (who may have been a toddler since we don’t know how much time had elapsed from his birth).
And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11)
While Christmas presents, trees, stockings, greeting cards, and other traditions are largely modern inventions, they can add to the joy and beauty of the Christmas season. Take caution that holiday shopping, decorating, and festivities do not become so all consuming that one forgets the true the reason for Christmas. Gifts should reflect the same spirit of love and concern, as did those of the Wise Men of old who presented the first gifts to the baby Jesus.
Combating the commercialization of Christmas
“I am saddened to see Christmas becoming less and less about Christ and more and more about marketing and sales, parties and presents. And yet, Christmas is what we make of it. Despite all the distractions, we can see to it that Christ is at the center of our celebration. If we have not already done so, we can establish Christmas traditions for ourselves and for our families which will help us capture and keep the spirit of Christmas.
…A wise Christian once urged, “Let us not spend Christmas … but let us keep Christmas in our hearts and in our lives.” This is my plea tonight, because when we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning. There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.” (Because He Came, Thomas S. Monson)
This Christmas season, let us all strive to spend extra time with family, find opportunities to serve neighbors, reach out to old friends, and show acts of Christ-like love in all we say and do.
- Seeing Christmas through New Eyes by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
- Catalog of First Presidency Christmas Devotionals