I figured it was the season for some holiday factoids. =)
The Christmas season is about much more than a day: it is about celebrating the miracle and life of Christ. Just as we have the Advent Calendar to count up to Christmas Day, so we also have the Twelve Days, which follow Christmas and lead up to the Epiphany.
Surviving mainly in Europe today, the Epiphany is a long-celebrated day that remembers the arrival of the Magi. Literally “Manifestation,” the Epiphany is also the day taken to commemorate the second birth or baptism of Christ and the importance of God being made man through that act.
A couple years ago, I made up what I called Epiphany Boxes for my family, though more accurately they were 12 Days of Christmas boxes. I made gifts for each day, enough for the whole family, appealing to Christmas traditions. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of them on Wednesdays. =)
I’ll start today with The Christmas Star, for which I gave a star ornament for the tree.
The Christmas Star is one of the most questioned and most miraculous signs that accompanied the arrival of the Lord. It is this star that led the Magi to Bethlehem, this star that shone with a wondrous light to announce Him to the world. What was it? That is something that scholars and astronomers have been trying to discover for millennia.
Some say it is a miracle akin to the Pillar of Fire that God used to lead Israel out of Egypt. Others hold that it was a cosmic event such as a comet or super-nova. Still others hold it was an actual star and focus on the claim that it came to a halt over Bethlehem, which indicates it must be either the sun or Venus, the two “wandering stars” that halt in their paths.
Interestingly, that’s actually one of the reasons we celebrate Christmas on 25 December. The sun does “halt” on its north-south progression for three days, twice a year, on the solstices. During the time of Christ’s birth, the winter solstice was 25 December.
Today, we tend to look on the arrival of a star to herald Christ as either miraculous or just plain crazy. But it’s interesting to note that at the time of Christ, every great man was thought to be accompanied by a star when he was born. Similar cosmic events have been recorded for Alexander the Great, Abraham, and Saint Augustine. So for His followers, it wasn’t odd that a star appeared for him—it would have been odd had one not.
(If anyone wanted a doc with the script I used for the gifts and full descriptions of the presents to use as ideas for your own boxes, I’d be happy to email it to you!)