Every year, around the Winter Solstice, friends and family gather together to celebrate one of many winter holidays. Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah. For Pagans and Wiccans, this holiday time may be called Yule, or simply the Winter Solstice. Some African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. Christians, however, celebrate this season as Christmas.
Celebrate Christmas with Carols, Presents, and Peace by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic, ISBN 978-1-4263-0122-3) is part of the Holidays Around the World series. Written for children ages 4 to 8, Celebrate Christmas shows how and why Christmas is celebrated.
The Beliefs Behind Christmas
Celebrate Christmas begins by looking at why Christians celebrate Christmas. Early church leaders did not know the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ so they decided to celebrate his birth on December 25, close to the Winter Solstice. For many people, the Winter Solstice symbolizes the rebirth of the sun, as Christmas symbolizes the birth of the Son of God.
A Time of Giving
For many Christians, Christmas is a special time for giving to those who are in need. Celebrate Christmas gives examples of how many Christians choose to help others. Volunteers in Budapest, Hungary prepare toys for needy families. In Spain, a gentleman dresses as one of the three kings and gives presents to children in a hospital. Some people choose to donate food for the hungry, while other people will work in kitchens to prepare meals for the poor.
Christmas is a special time for decorations. People cover evergreen trees, a symbol of eternal life, with lights and tinsel. Home are decorated with Santa’s. In some homes, special cookies are baked and decorated, such as gingerbread men and houses.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Traditions
On Christmas Eve, December 24, some people attend church for the Candlelight service or the Midnight Mass. This is a special time for many people as they pray and give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ. This is also the night when children go to sleep, dreaming of Santa Claus and his reindeer.
Finally, on Christmas day friends and family gather together for the Christmas dinner. Each family has a traditional Christmas meal that often reflects their culture. Everyone celebrates being together and expressing good will towards others.
A Lovely Introduction to the Christian Holiday
Filled with beautiful and heartwarming photographs, Celebrate Christmas is a beautiful introduction to Christmas for Christian families. There is little emphasis on the presents, while greater emphasis is placed on why Christians celebrate Christmas and what the season means to them. National Geographic and author Deborah Heiligman have done a wonderful job in creating a children’s book that will be treasured by many families.