Disciple Up # 289
Where Did American Christmas Traditions Come From?
By Louie Marsh 12-21-2022
Older Christmas Episodes You Might Want to Listen to:
34 – What is Christmas All About
87- The non-Pagan Roots of Christmas
88 – Christ IS In X-Mas
Unitarians and Episcopalians Created American Christmas
But evangelicals have rightly made it more gospel centered.
DANIEL K. WILLIAMS
DECEMBER 14, 2022
Conservative evangelical Christians have sometimes been eager advocates of the modern campaign to “keep Christ in Christmas” and preserve the traditional religious meaning of the holiday.
There’s one major problem with this campaign: The original religious message behind the American Christmas was not evangelical at all.
Instead, it was the creation of Unitarians, Episcopalians, and other liberal Protestants who had little interest in several key tenets of the evangelical understanding of the gospel.
Those of us who are evangelical in our faith can still have a merry Christmas. But if we want to do so in a way that foregrounds the gospel, we may have to discover a new approach to the holiday that does more than simply preserve the old.
…As Penne Restad describes in Christmas in America: A History, early 19th-century New England Congregationalist children whose parents ignored Christmas marveled when the Episcopalians in their towns wrapped their church buildings in garlands of greenery and gathered to sing on Christmas morning. Some of them expressed a longing for a little of this Christmas cheer. The yearning became more acute when German Lutheran immigrants brought new Christmas traditions to America—especially the Christmas tree and Santa Claus.
…Evangelicals who believe in the gospel of the Incarnation cannot therefore find much comfort in public campaigns to replace “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas” or set up creches in the town square. What we need is not a return to the 1950s or even the Victorian era but rather a recovery of wonder at the incarnate God coming to earth in the form of a baby in order to save humanity.
Daniel K. Williams is a professor of history at the University of West Georgia and the author of Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe v. Wade.
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