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Christmas Essentials at My Merry

By My Merry Christmas Managing Editor Jeffery S. Westover
Jesus Christ

Christmas is ageless. It has been observed in one form or another since the beginning of recorded history -- even before the birth of Jesus Christ. With such a rich and diverse history, time has eroded, distorted, twisted and confused the fundamental elements that lay at the core of Christmas observance.

Some call this progress.

But Christmas, unlike matters of science, was never intended to change or "evolve". Here we explore these essentials of the season: what it means, where it began, and how it impacts us. Much of this information is not new. But for a world grown fond of making sacred things secular, these details surprise, delight and inspire.

Christmas Defined
Christmas is so big today that too many people describe it differently. Here we get back to the very core of what Christmas was "in the beginning". What was true then is true now. This is what Christmas is.

The Real First Christmas
Christmas is much older than the Nativity. The birth of the Babe of Bethlehem was a predicted event. It was anticipated. It was celebrated for centuries before it actually took place. This is the story of the very first Christmas and the grand celebration that would later be echoed by angels visiting the shepherds of the Nativity.

Christmas Before Christ
Christian fundamentalists emphatically argue that modern-day Christmas observance has ties to ancient pagan practices. Indeed, all evidence points to undeniable connections to worshippers of sun gods and saviors not named Jesus Christ. But that doesn't mean we need to throw out Christmas trees, mistletoe and Santa Claus. Christ was celebrated long before He was born. And just because secular symbols such as evergreens were "blended" to fit with Christian religious thought is no reason to label it evil today.

The Evolution of Christmas
Modern historians lay the foundations of Christmas at the feet of pagan peoples who populated the earth in the generations before Christ. Their claim is that the third century Christian churches adopted elements of Christmas we take for granted today -- Christmas trees, wreaths, etc -- and adopted them to conform to the sacred observance of Christ's birth. Which came first -- Christ or Christmas? In this article we forward a theory of how Christmas has grown into the blend of the sacred and secular that it is today -- and why Christmas has significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Nativity: A Story of Two Babies
We tend to romanticize the story of the Nativity. But the story is a fascinating adventure highlighting the human emotions of a cast of characters who display everything from astonished faith to evil greed. And the story is really about the birth of two babies -- not just one.

The Nativity Part II: The Women of Christmas
The role of women in the birth and earthly mission of Jesus Christ cannot be underscored enough. They were normal people but extraordinary characters. This article discusses where they came from, the challenges they faced and overcame, and the last impact of their roles as we celebrate Christmas today.

The Nativity Part III: Husbands and Father
What would you do if you were charged with being the earthly father of a Divine Being? Such was the calling of Joseph, the often most overlooked character in the Christmas story. His unique place in Christmas history is mirrored by the righteous Zecharias, whose faith wavered only because he felt he and his wife were too old to parent a child. The fascinating tales of fathers and husbands in the Christmas story make it a compelling chapter of Christmas not to be missed.

The Nativity Part IV: He is Born
He was born in the lowliest of circumstances. But around the world miracles happened to announce His coming. The stark contrast between harsh physical realities and heavenly manifestations began and continued in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

The Nativity Part V: Good Kings and Bad Kings
His coming was foretold and with those prophecies came the political machinations against Him and the march of far-away royalty to come come worship Him. The bald opposition and contrasting forces surrounding the life and mission of Jesus Christ unfolded in drama even before He was born.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus
The first family of Christmas were different than we all think. A fascinating look at the human side of Jesus' life and his storied entrance into mortality.

The Book of Luke -- Chapter 2
The full text of the 2nd Chapter of Luke of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, the traditional scriptural account of the Birth of the Savior.

The Legends of Nature at the Nativity
Talking animals? Flame beating birds? All of nature it seems was there by the manger when Jesus was born.

The Magi
They came without really knowing why. They traveled to a strange land, stood beforean evil and murderous dictator, and paid humble homage to an Infant King. Who were these wisemen of old? Why did theydo what they did? A fascinating tale of mystery, adventure, magic and the evil designs of a jealous king.

The True Story of Santa Claus
His childhood tragedy made him an orphan. His youthful exhuberence in defending the faith made him a prisoner. His passion for service, especially to children, made him beloved by millions. But it was his profound belief in Jesus Christ that made him a legend beyond his time. This article tells you everything you didn't know about Santa Claus.

Great Quotes of Christmas
Thoughts from the famous and not-so-famous on Christmas. Quick and thought-provoking reading.

Christmas Fans -- Ranking the Best of Christmas

2012 Founder's Award