Have FUN Creating Holiday Traditions

As you can see on my blog, I absolutely love celebrating holidays. I look forward to using these special times of the year as springboards for teaching since it makes learning so much FUN. I also like continuing our family traditions that can be traced back for generations.

I've never given much thought to the origins of most holiday traditions or symbols in America. I've heard the debates on why or why not families should participate in certain celebrations, and I try to be considerate of everyone's views.

Kirk Cameron is on a mission to reveal the truth about the holidays. He feels too many have been deceived for far too long. Watch this excellent interview.

Last night, my husband and I went to see "Saving Christmas," and I learned a lot about Christmas traditions. I hope many people will be able to experience freedom after viewing the movie.

Recently, I have been taking a Community Bible Study class. We've been digging deep into the Word and learning about 1 Corinthians. It reminds me a lot of the message of "Saving Christmas." Read what Paul says about being released from false teachings.
1 Corinthians 8:4-8 (NIV)- So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
The meat was given as a sacrifice to the false gods and later sold in the marketplace. Paul recognized that he could eat the meat without sinning, even though others felt like it was tainted. Paul knew his one and only God created the meat and he was not bound by the Pagan laws because he did not believe in them

This study reaffirmed that I am free from the Pagan laws since I do not believe in them. It makes me sad that so many Christians feel like they are in bondage to certain false customs and traditions. More and more Christians are even going "dark" during certain times of the year and refusing to have no part in a holiday.

I choose to live each day in freedom for I know that only God created every single day of the year and I will give only Him the glory.
Psalm 118:24-"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
God wants us to be joyful and not hide from others. How can we be the light to the world if we are disassociating ourselves and going "dark?"

My study Bible states to be respectful of others and do not cause them to stumble, but we do not have to be bound by fear of offending rigid or legalistic Christians. I have learned that we are only slaves to Him (not to false Gods or the beliefs of others) and we can live freely to enjoy each and every day of the year.
1 Peter 2:15-16-"For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves."
Here are some of the reasons I've heard from fellow parents on why they did not celebrate certain holiday traditions.

I refuse to teach my child about fantasies.

The fact is children love fantasy. Look on a young child's bookshelf and you will find almost all fiction books with most falling into the fantasy genre. Children make-up imaginary scenes throughout the day. My daughter is constantly dressing up as a Disney princess or playing mom with her baby dolls. My youngest son enjoys acting like a superhero and pretends to fight the bad guys. Two of my other sons build imaginary cities with their Legos and on Minecraft. It's part of how a child's brain is wired. Eventually children will outgrow this, but until then, my family will enjoy sharing imaginative stories and having visits from a leprechaun, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa.

I think most people would be surprised to learn how special days of the year that seem fictional can be traced back to real stories. From St. Patrick to St. Valentine, there were people who did great things for God's kingdom, including St. Nicholas. By the way, Santa was one tough dude! Not only was he a generous man who shared gifts with others, He was a defender of the faith. At the Council of Nicea, Saint Nicholas fought the heretic Arius who was spreading lies that Jesus was not in fact the son of God, but a mere man. Saint Nicholas’ actions produced the Nicene Creed – a statement of faith and belief in Jesus Christ in the Christian church.

I enjoy using Holiday Heroes to link the holidays to Biblical lessons.

In addition, I read these Christmas books and Easter books to my children every year as a tradition to connect the symbolism of the holidays. We also make crafts and enjoy treats to go along with each theme.

I like how Christianity Today states:
God made our imaginations and hardwired us to connect deeply with stories. Jesus himself appealed to people's imagination by telling parables—stories that communicated profound truths. Even if stories are fairy tales, and therefore not empirically true, they still communicate truth. Smart parents will use the Santa story to teach their children to be giving rather than demanding and to experience generosity and grace.
My children may resent me when they learn the truth.

It's ultimately a parent's decision on which traditions they would like to do with their family and exactly how they would like to implement them. They are free to decide to participate in the Elf on the Shelf craze, hang stockings for Santa to fill, or leave carrots for the reindeer. Parents can choose to be completely honest up front or work behind-the-scenes, but no matter what, it is all done in fun and out of love.

I've never worried about my children no longer trusting me when they learn the truth about who the tooth fairy really is. My oldest son was not upset with me when I broke the news to him but actually laughed. In fact, he became the tooth fairy a few times for his younger brothers.

When I was a child, my parents never had the talk with me about how they were working behind-the-scenes during Christmas. I was left to figure it all out on my own. Did I resent them and later need counseling to sort through my emotions? No. I thought it was super sweet how they spent so much time and effort in creating magical memories for their children. In fact, if I called my father right now and asked him if Santa is for real, he would still answer, "Of course he is."

My parents continue to have family traditions by hiding Easter eggs in their yard every year for the grandkids and even for the adults. Yes, all my siblings and our spouses (ages 30's-40's) run around his backyard to collect the eggs that are above eye-level (our kids get the ones that are lower). The adults are VERY competitive. Heels come off and women are dashing through the grass barefooted in sundresses. It is hysterical! Did I mention that my Dad puts money in the plastic eggs? It is quite a sight to see but certainly one of our favorite family Easter traditions.
Our homeschool group's Easter party at our church.
The Easter Bunny (aka my husband) making a visit to our Sunday school party.
By the way, my boys had no idea it was their Dad 
Do I care that Easter eggs are thought to be Pagan symbols? Not a bit. I focus on who created the eggs in the first place, not Pagans, but God. I choose to relate the eggs to wonderful memories of my family coloring eggs and going on hunts together. To my family, the eggs symbolize Christ breaking free from the tomb just as a chick breaks free from an egg. I also use eggs as teaching tools during Easter, such as using the Resurrection Eggs to retell the Easter story and plastic eggs for learning activities.

Most Kindergarten teachers have a leprechaun visit their classrooms while the children are not in the room. Children go all out in creating elaborate traps to catch the leprechaun and his pot of gold. The leprechaun will play some tricks on them and then he leaves them a treat, such as a cookie or cupcake. I never had students return years later to my classroom upset to learn that the leprechaun was not real, but they would comment on how fun it was and how they missed it.

On a side note, I believe God loves these silly traditions and also has a huge sense of humor. There is no other way to explain this true story that happened to my oldest son and I on St. Patrick's Day.

The Great Halloween Debate

This debate is very common in the Christian community. I've heard both sides and never felt convicted to stop participating. My family even volunteered in our church's fall festival that was held on Halloween. I have a hard time accepting that my daughter dressed up as Cinderella or my son as a Ninja Turtle is worshiping false Gods. Just like Paul, I do not believe in false Gods, so therefore, I am not bound by those laws, customs, or dates.

Now to make things more interesting with the Great Halloween Debate, what if it really did not begin with Pagans? Read this article to learn how Halloween might actually be traced back to the days of Noah.
Answers in Genesis also references Psalm 24:1 in the article to emphasize everything belongs to the Lord. Therefore, there is no reason to let Satan have Halloween. It was not his day in the first place!
This year my family went to Disney's Not-So-Spooky Halloween Party and we thoroughly enjoyed it. No guilt. Just pure family fun with lots of yummy candy.

I think Kirk Cameron would smile at my family creating our own traditions since he recently said Christians should be throwing the biggest Halloween party on the block.

Reinvent new meanings for old symbols and traditions.

Christians should be cautious about condemning practices as Pagan just because of their probable origins. Many American traditions and symbols that most Christians participate in and use have Pagan beginnings. They just don't realize it.
  • Funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and wedding rings have Pagan roots.
  • We still read our Bibles and pray on Thursday, which was originally a day dedicated to Thor (Thor's day). Other days of the week fall into this category, too.
  • The fish (Ichthys) people have on their bumpers of their cars has Pagan origins.
  • It seems that most popular symbols and traditions used in America for the holidays could be traced back to the Pagans. Evergreen Christmas trees, the giving of gifts, holly, stockings, yule logs, and mistletoe were all elements adopted from the ancient Pagan traditions. The Easter bunny, hunting eggs, coloring eggs, and even the word "Easter" is from Pagan roots. The act of dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and going trick-or-treating is considered to be Pagan. Even Thanksgiving Day is debated to begin as Pagan before it was celebrated in America. The cornucopia and foods we typically eat on Thanksgiving, including turkey, were supposedly used in Pagan feasts.
Do you see how you could go on and on? It is exhausting. The bottom line is legalism robs your joy and is never-ending. The more you hide and choose not to create your own traditions out of fear of offending others and God, the less you can celebrate His blessings and be a blessing to others.

Here is my favorite quote from the movie "Saving Christmas."
"We need to make traditions of our own. We need to infuse old symbols with new meaning. We need to arrange our lives and our homes so that every single thing points to Jesus." ~Kirk Cameron
The Believer’s Freedom 

By His grace, we have been brought from the darkness and into the light. We are free in Christ. HERE are some wonderful verses that demonstrate your freedom, which you can use to make wise choices on how to celebrate your faith and create family traditions. Let's go back to the example of meat Paul used in 1 Corinthians. 
1 Corinthians 10:25-26- Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
 Corinthians 10:29-30- For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?  
I encourage you to stop listening to others' opinions about their personal convictions and pray to the one and only God and seek His wisdom.

Have fun creating holiday traditions with your loved ones,