The War on Christmas: A Unique Family Advent Resource

The War on Christmas: A Unique Family Advent Resource

Have you ever heard the claim that most elements of our Christmas celebrations have pagan roots?

I’ve been perusing several new Advent and Christmas resources to share with you this year. One of those is the recently released The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression edited by Bodie Hodge. The War on Christmas investigates this claim, what our response as Christians should be, and why a Christian concept of Christmas is so important. It delves into the history, relevance, and biblical connections behind what has become in many ways a secular, commercialized holiday.

The book is absolutely gorgeous, with high-quality photos and illustrations and a beautiful layout. Twenty-three chapters are divided into five sections:

  • What About Christmas? This section addresses the origin of the name “Christmas”, the origin of the holiday and it’s date, when Christ was actually born, a detailed timeline of the events surrounding his birth, and more.
  • Confusion and Misconceptions deals with common misconceptions about the first Christmas: the meaning of the “X” in “Xmas”, how many wise men there really were, whether the angels really sang, and so on.
  • It’s All Baby Jesus answers the questions, “Why did Jesus have to be born in Bethlehem?” and “What is the significance of the name ‘Jesus’?”, among others. The genealogies given in the Gospels are discussed here too.
  • How Christmas Came to Be answers fascinating questions about the Christmas Star, and historical and archeological details about the first Christmas. Would the nativity really have resembled our cute nativity scenes? What was it really like? It also discusses the virgin birth and its significance, whether Mary remained a perpetual virgin, and if she realized exactly who her son was and what would happen to him.
  • The War on Christmas gets into our modern cultural conception of Christmas – the focus on commercialism and Santa Claus – and brings it back to why Christ came, beginning with the Fall in Genesis. The life of Saint Nicholas and how it evolved into the modern-day Santa Claus story is explained, and more.

Here’s a fun promo video:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book! There are two extremes: the contemporary culture’s secularization and commercialization of the day until the true meaning is totally obscured, and in reaction to that, those who insist Christmas is a totally pagan holiday, based on ancient paganism, and want to throw it all out.

By focusing on the details surrounding the first Christmas – both the historical/archeological and theological – and digging into the origins of things like Santa Claus, and the “pagan roots” of Christmas, The War on Christmas clears away many misconceptions and myths held by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Not only does it do that, but it also addresses an important point that is often overlooked by even devout Christians:

“The Church has often failed during Christmastime because we simply talk about the birth of Christ without talking about why He came.” (p. 21)

The importance of Christ’s coming is covered extensively alongside the other information, going all the way back to it’s foundation in Genesis. It’s not enough simply to oppose and get rid of the “secular” elements of the holiday. We need to replace them or bring them back around to the truth behind them that’s been obscured. We need to not only draw attention to the baby in the manger, but the significance of that baby and what he came to do.

The breadth of topics covered is wide, from fascinating historical and archeological facts like how the characters in Greek mythology relate to Noah, what astronomical phenomenon the Christmas Star may have been, and more, to foundational biblical truths about the significance of Christ’s birth and life.

My understanding is that many of the chapters in the book have been previously published as individual articles, but I really appreciate having them compiled and organized in this format! At times, when discussing the secularization of the holiday, the tone gets slightly strident, but it wasn’t enough to put me off. The information is fantastic, and each topic is covered quite thoroughly, with extensive footnotes.

The War on Christmas is an excellent Christmas/Advent resource for the family discipleship toolbox, and I can think of several great ways to use it.

Here are a couple:

  • Christmas School for older students. In the past, I’ve done what I call “Christmas School” with my kids, where we do fun Advent activities and explore the history and significance behind many of our Christmas traditions. As my older two have matured, I’ve had less material at their level. This is the perfect addition for them! With the detailed historical information and extensive footnotes, it could easily be used by older students as a jumping off point to research one of the topics in greater depth.
  • A family Advent read-aloud. With 23 chapters, this would be a great family Advent read-aloud, reading and discussing one chapter a day. I’m really looking forward to doing this with my family this year! I think many of the chapters will spur some very interesting conversation in our family! 🙂

I’m looking forward to adding The War on Christmas to our Advent traditions this year!

You can read more about our family’s celebration of Advent and our favorite resources here, and I have a couple more new things to share with you in the next few weeks too, so keep an eye out! 

Thanks so much to Master Books for providing a copy of The War on Christmas for review! I received no compensation and was not required to give a positive review.

Linked with Raising Homemakers, Works for Me Wednesday, Welcome Home Wednesday, Hearts for Home, Graced Simplicity, Thrive @ Home Thursday, Fellowship Fridays, Essential Fridays, Friday! Friday!

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for such a detailed review! I’m really wanting to check this book out!
    Crystal @ WisdomSeekingMommy.com recently posted…Stop Following the RulesMy Profile

  2. Sounds like an interesting read. I do think it’s important to focus on the meaning behind our celebrations, and sometimes we do get into the traditions without remembering why they are traditions – or why they are important. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Bonnie Way recently posted…Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives (Book Review)My Profile

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