Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Stories

My family and I are all fans of the annual "A Christmas Story" movie. It is a comedy that is usually broadcast as a "marathon" on Christmas day on the USA channel.

The only criticism that I have about this movie is the fact that the family does not mention the REAL meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ. And, they do not attend church either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day - something that most people in the 50's would have done as part of their family traditions.

Of course, the secularists in our society wouldn't miss such a family tradition.

Anyway, today I want to post two of my favorite Christmas stories. Even though secular America may want to leave Christ out of Christmas, true believers still get to enjoy the realization of our Savior's birth and what His birth, life, ministry here on earth, death at the cross, and resurrection to life means for our salvation.

The Candy Cane at Christmas


THE STORY OF THE CANDY CANE AT CHRISTMAS.

A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.

He incorporated several symbols from the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy Cane -- a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still there for those who "have eyes to see and ears to hear."

Every time you see a Candy Cane, remember the Wonder of Jesus and His Great Love that came down at Christmas, and that His Love remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.


Religious Meaning of "The 12 Days of Christmas.

"The 12 Days of Christmas"

~ Origins and Religious Meaning ~

Caveat: I've discovered that there is a controversy disputing the authenticity of this interpretation, just to inform you. There are some who have labeled this an "urban legend."

Also: I heard this on a Christian radio station today, so I do not deem it only a "Catholic" religious message. It is inherently Christian and does not add any false doctrine (as far as I can see) to Biblical Christian faith.

Note: The concepts symbolized in "The Twelve Days of Christmas," are not just considered Catholic, because these were basic articles of faith common to all denominations of Christianity.

*******


Background:

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.

The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"
The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day:

The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

2nd Day:

The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day:

The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

4th Day:

The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5th Day:

The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day:

The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.

7th Day:

The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord
.
8th Day:

The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day:

The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

10th Day:

The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments

11th Day:

The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.

12th Day:

The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

So the next time you hear "the Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith.


Adapted from email messages,from "How To Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas,"by Hugh D. McKellar, U.S. Catholic, 12/1979, and from "‘12 Days of Christmas’ is no nonsense, but a serious riddle" by David Crowder, El Paso Times, 12/19/1993.

Also, Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" An Underground Catechism by Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95 http://www.cin.org/twelvday.html

Note: P.S. It has come to our attention that this tale is made up of both fact and fiction. Hopefully it will be accepted in the spirit it was written. As an encouragement to people to keep their faith alive, when it is easy, and when any outward expressions of their faith could mean their life. Today there are still people living under similar conditions, may this tale give them courage, and determination to use any creative means at their disposal to keep their faith alive.

5 comments:

4simpsons said...

Good points and good stories.

Merry Christmas! Blessings to you for all you do to advance the kingdom.

GMpilot said...

Yes, the candy cane story does sound apocryphal, especially that part about shaping it in the form of a J. I suspect the reason was rather more pragmatic.

Speaking as a secularist, I say: if you wish to attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as part of your "family tradition", go right ahead. I don't mind at all--really. Just don't insist that it has to be part of my family tradition.

Mele Kalikimaka

Christinewjc said...

Thanks Neil! Merry Christmas! I have been fighting a bad cold the last two days. Hate when I get sick during the holidays.

Many blessings to you and your family as well as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Christine

My favorite saying:

Keep Christ in Christmas

Christinewjc said...

GM- No one is telling you that you need to attend church. This post was expressing my opinion that the annual classic movie, "A Christmas Story," was missing the main purpose of the holiday - any mention of Jesus Christ. People in the 50's were more inclined to attend church back then. I was just pointing out this fact.

They could have named it "A Holiday Story." I suspect with the atmosphere so hostile to even the mention of the term "Christmas," if the movie was made today, they most likely would have used "holiday" instead.

Christinewjc said...

Speaking of Christmas stories, a few weeks back I had gotten a very poor manicure at a salon I usually do not visit. I hate fake nails, so I only get manicures when I absolutely have to - because they don't last but two days. I'm a very hands on person, doing work around the house, caring for our dog etc. This is why I only get manicures for special occasions (like my husband's work Christmas dinner.)

The woman who gave me a bad manicure was my age with 39, 24, and 22 year old adult children. We chatted a lot during the session. It was afterwards that I noticed how uneven the french manicure appeared.

Following this, my daughter and I had dinner at a nearby Greek cafe (so good!!) but my manicure suffered even further because it wasn't completely dry.

Anyway, the day of the Christmas party I decided to get my nails re-painted at my usual salon. The young girl did such a beautiful job, I wanted to show her my appreciation. A re-paint is only $8.00. I gave her a $20.00 and told her to keep the change. She said, "but the cost is only $8.00." I said, "you keep it - Merry Christmas."

As I sat at the desk with my hands under the ultra-violet light, I overheard her whispering to a group of people in the salon. Then, one person said, "the Vietnamese do not celebrate Christmas?"

This left me wondering. Was the young girl somehow insulted that I used that greeting with her? I can only guess at this point.

I have had people say "Happy Hannukah" to me before. One of my daughter's friends (Christian) gave me a "Kwanzaa" nutcracker decoration (I used to collect them) years ago. I just laughed. Didn't bother me a bit. So, why is it that people dislike Christians saying "Merry Christmas?" That is the name of the holiday...isn't it??

When I go back to the salon, I hope to get a chance to talk with that young manicurist again. I would really like to know what her feelings were when I said, "Merry Christmas" to her.

When I give money to homeless people holding up signs at stoplights, I usually tell them that "All that I have belongs to Jesus Christ. Without Him in my life, I am nothing. This donation comes from Him, through me. God bless you."

Do you know what? Many of these people often acknowledge Jesus is Lord right back to me! They thank me and they say, "God bless you" back.

Any homeless person could be of any religion - or, no religion at all. However, when I share just where the money I am giving them came from, they gratefully accept it. There is no animosity because I mentioned Christ.

Go figure...

BTW, because of an unfortunate experience years back (a woman took the money I gave her and ran into the liquor store), I request that they not use it for alcohol or drugs. Most promise me that they won't.

I do this because I want them to realize that what the Lord provides through His Holiness and Righteousness should be respected. (Please note - I AM NOT saying that I am holy or righteous. In fact, the Bible tells us that "all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."

That fact humbles everybody and puts us in our place - Amen?