Christmas Day comes in all sizes. By sizes I mean our Christmas Days have come with good or bad, happy or sad, memories of all sizes.
Beyond the pleasant, peaceful, and meaningful day of giving and receiving gifts is remembering that God gave His Son on that first Christmas Day. (I don’t know the how of it, but by faith I know ‘tis so.) To some people Christmas is a lovely custom, to others a grand holiday, but to one writer-scholar, “The Christmas story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, … If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.” (from “God in the Dock” by C.S. Lewis.)
There is an advantage for some Christians who are of the Orthodox (or Eastern Church) as they can celebrate two Christmases a year if they so choose. They can celebrate Dec. 25 according to the Gregorian calendar or Jan. 7 according to the Julian calendar.
History tells us that on Christmas Day of the year 800, Charlemagne was crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor and a mere 266 years later, in the year 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned as king of England.
St. Francis of Assisi is said to have assembled the first Nativity scene. (Wonder if he had to get a permit?) In Austria, in 1818 the first singing of “Silent Night” performed.
In 1868, United States President Andrew Johnson granted unconditional pardon to all Civil War Confederate soldiers. The state of Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday, beginning in 1836. In part one of this series, it was noted that Christmas was declared a federal holiday on June 26, 1870.
Texas colonizer, Stephen F. Austin, was freed on bail from a Mexico jail on Christmas Day, 1834
The Christmas of 1941 was not a pleasant one for the people of Hong Kong. That was the day the Japanese forces took the colony in World War II. The Emperor of Japan ruled Hong Kong for most of the next five years. The late Oz Quick, a Southern Baptist missionary from Guilin, China, was in Hong Kong recovering from an illness that day. He spent Christmas in a Japanese jail. We worked together years later in Taiwan.
Speaking of Taiwan, in 1947, the Constitution of the Republic of China on Taiwan went into effect and became a holiday they called Constitution Day. Being mostly a Buddhist country, they assured the people this was not a religious Christian holiday. It was a religious holiday for the Christians and Constitution Day for the Buddhists, Daoists and non religious.
A history-making meeting on Christmas Day, 1977, was that between – Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin and the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat. The date was also Sadat’s birthday.
Others born on Christmas Day include: Sir Isaac Newton; Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross); hotel magnate Conrad Hilton (San Angelo’s Cactus Hotel was the second one he built?). Musicians Cab Calloway and Tony Martin. (Dean Martin died on Christmas Day). Actors Humphrey Bogart, Sissy Spacek; scriptwriter Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone and “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”) American footballers Ken Stabler (the Snake, Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers) and Larry Csonka, Miami Dolphins running back in Super Bowls VI, VII, VIII).
Nineteen short years ago, the first successful trial run of the system which has become known as the World Wide Web, was on Christmas Day, 1990. The Internet Era began. If our Christmases cannot be historic, they can be happy.
Britt Towery is a former missionary, freelance writer and published author of “Carey Daniel’s China Jewell, story of the Gal from Buffalo Gap.” His columns are published in the Bulletin on Fridays. He welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other columns are available on his Web site, www.britt-towery.