Focus on outward appearances

Paying so much attention and loving so much setting great store by outward appearances of the Christmas holiday season you may wonder how much those people screaming about the de-consecration did not themselves are part of the secularization.

One of the best things about the month of December is not the beginning of the winter season or furrylittlegnome’s birthday but the smell of Christmas trees!  Originating in Germany in the sixteenth century, the tradition of a Christmas tree has evolved over time.

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States.

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

writes Sophia Petrillo from The Golden Girls in O Christmas Tree where she looks at the American common Christmas trees Balsam Firs and Fraser Firs – the latter found in the Eastern United States.

On December the 8th she wrote:

While reading the news online this morning, furrylittlegnome learned some interesting facts. While 88% of Americans will have a Christmas tree in their homes this season, 83% of these Christmas trees will be artificial or “fake”!

What proves it has nothing to do any more with having a sent in the closed homes, or to have some natural green in the season where there are not many blossoming flowers.

Some bloggers apologies already for being so, so late not having set up their Christmas decorations

I’m aware that I should have been in full Christmas mode in September when the first decorations hit the stores. Beach balls to Christmas balls, in the blink of an eye… {Holidaisical}

the sexy santa assistants were there to take a...

the sexy santa assistants were there to take a photo of you in front of the xmas tree or you could just ask them to take a photo with you and pretend that your girlfriend is a sexy santa assistant See where this picture was taken. [?] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Langan, currently Business Services Director at the Penn Emblem Company, does find his joy in the music, which we do have to hear everywhere all the time on the streets, shopping malls, train stations and airports. think about those people who have to work in those places for many hours and have to hear those songs over and over again, many days after each other.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the music.

writes John Langan

I love the old standards by Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, and the newer standards by The Killers and The Pogues (if you don’t know the raw passion of “Fairytale of New York”, you are missing out). So many new songs come out this time of year, a lot for free through iTunes and other places on the World Wide Web. A few are great (“Christmas, Baby” by G Love, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Barenaked Ladies), and some are so stunningly awful they defy description. Each year I add to my already great playlist of holiday music… and just play it all day. Love, love, love! {Holidaisical}

He does not want any complaints:

Life is too short, my friends. There is no reason to be angry in a season dedicated to peace and love… or any other time. So Uncle Ornery… don’t worry about gifts this year. Be cheerful instead, and that can be everyone’s gift. And Jackwagon… Shop online! And Good Catholic… I feel your pain because I used to be you. I use to go to church every week, now I don’t for whatever reason. So excuse me this year if I sit in the wrong seat, or say the wrong thing. Just like everyone else, I’m just doing my best.

Southern Virginia farm of Christmas trees of v...

Southern Virginia farm of Christmas trees of various types. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The transplanted American, living in Australia for the last 30 year, in Family and “the Christmas tree farm“, is aware that the traditions of Christmas are many and varied, depending on the cultural heritage and family practice. It are those family practices which may give the love for a sort of celebration which is placed in the memory form childhood. Her parents and grandparents started the Corsi Tree Farm in southern Ohio.

Thousands of people in the Cincinnati area will travel to the Corsi Tree Farm this year, not just to cut their own Christmas tree, but to have an old fashioned experience with country music, animals and hospitality.  It is probably a tradition that will disappear one day, but for now it is alive and well in Hamersville, Ohio. {the Christmas tree farm}

Because some people do have multiple Christmas trees, their business perhaps could be blooming very well. Marie Haigh who lives in Pottstown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has 5 to be exact. Her first memory of picking out a Christmas tree was walking outside in our front yard and picking an evergreen tree. Her daughter’s memory will be similar.
Her reason for so many trees:

 I just love Christmas trees. I love decorating them. I love looking at them. It is the best Christmas decoration. I would be happy if it were the only Christmas decoration we had. {Sunday Snapshots (of Christmas trees)}

Like several people the writer of Sunday Snapshots (of Christmas Decorations), who learned to knit from her mother-in-law a few years ago, hates decking for Christmas when it is frigid outside. Her blog features her knitting designs, current knitting WIPS (works in progress) whether or not they are designed by her and even failed projects. Occasionally, she takes a much needed break from knitting, such as after the birth of her daughter. During such times, her blog focuses on her family along with the hobby that has her current attention, bouncing between sewing, gardening, card-making and cooking. She lets her child make some ornaments out of Crayola model magic clay, which gives something creative to this whole set of putting up the tree where she as mother also shows her decorating talent. Her daughter Elly went to a “fairy garden class” and made some beautiful “Angel garden”. At the end of the season this daughter was upset that her parents put away the Christmas decorations. {Missing Santa}

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

A Christmas Tree at Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whilst she and her daughter may have no lack of inspiration others may get such a lack of inspiration it is driving them bonkers.  A runner that loves to bake, her runs have been out of obligation, not bad but certainly not awesome.  To cap off her great day, of an 1:30 minute run she went to pick out her very first Christmas tree. {Inspiration for 500 Alex…}

Heidi a caffeine-aholic, living in Western Colorado, also shows the roots of her loving the Christmas tree.

To say my Mom loved Christmas and kept it well was an understatement.  She baked jillions of cookies, decorated multiple trees and hosted a holiday open house with tons of different appetizers, cookies, Scandinavian delicacies, and drinks.  She loved to show off her decorated home and culinary skills, and particularly loved that people she invited brought others with them and that the parish priest would stay until the very end of the party and take home leftovers.  She was in the middle of planning her holiday party when her recurring cancer landed her in the hospital.  She died Christmas Eve.  I like to think she went to party with the angels for Christmas, and they took her at that moment to make Christmas extra special for her.

Nice to hear that this sad moment in her life on such a special day did not ruin her “Christmas”.  Understandably she may get a bit melancholy,

but mostly, I try to decorate, cook and entertain in the way Mom would have.  I celebrate Christmas and celebrate Mom.

Mom had a shed on her New Mexico property she called the Christmas Shed–packed to the rafters with all manner of Christmas decor.  I brought a few things home with me, a tub marked Norwegian Tree, and a few of her treasured trolls.  Mom’s mom was Norwegian, and Mom identified with all thing Norwegian.  The tub had ornaments, linens, and candlesticks painted as a Norwegian man and woman in their traditional finery.

Here again we see that figures come in the Christmas story which have nothing to do with the birth of Christ nor with the place of his birth. I wonder what “Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, Union, ManU, The Masters, “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments for boys and girls, dog stuff, from {Holidaisical}, beads and garland have to do with the birth of Christ in that “good tree” .

Trolls are beloved by Scandinavian people and according to Mom, these must be complimented on their beauty and charm.  If you dare speak of them in terms of ugly, homely or scary, they will play pranks on you at night. {Celebrating Christmas, Celebrating Mom}

She has “A snowman tree”, “A kitchen tree” with tiny kitchen utensils and cookie cutters, “A silver and gold tree with spun glass ornaments” and the “big tree” with ornaments from her childhood and those her family has collected over the years.

 It’s traditional to use an ornament as a decoration on a wrapped gift.

I also set out a pair of Christmas plates, also painted by Mom.  The Santa one has Mom and Dad’s names as well as the names of their friends of the time, on Santa’s list.

Mulled wine steeping (Swedish glögg)

I would say on cold day a Glühwine or Mulled wine, vin chaud (“hot wine”), [In Italy: vin brulé (“burnt wine”)] the spicy warm wine with cloves, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon or mace, orange or mandarins, elderberries, blueberries, cherries, red and black currants and blackberries, may not be lacking. In the Netherlands, the drink is known as bisschopswijn (literally “bishop’s wine”). Bisschopswijn is drunk during the Sinterklaas holidays. It uses oranges instead of lemons as an ingredient.
When Madeira wine and Port wine are used we call it Douro, or like in the Minho Provincesvinho quente“. In Canada they call it also Caribou, thought my family in law living there still call it “bisschopswijn”.

An other “warming up drink” may be the traditional Scandinavian spirit Aquavit, distilled from potatoes and spiced with caraway, dill, cardamom, and anise.

 It pairs nicely with fish and is usually served in tiny glasses and meant to be sipped and savored.

For us this is the time, after a good big walk, to say “Skoal!”

Jeffrey Bing who values faith, family, fun, football, and following sports of all types, for the past 21 years, Christmas morning was, without fail, about early morning wake ups with the kids to see what Santa had brought for them.

From “Baby Hannah” walking behind her big truck at 7 months of age, to Alec and Rebecca each being equally (if not more) interested in what Santa brought to their twin than to them in their 11th month of age first Christmas, Christmas morning has been about joy, discovery, and sharing.

Once again we can see that this family had their traditional “Christmas Santa” event. But the “Santa” was not standing for “Sanct” or “Holy“. It was all about a Nordic figure and nothing with a Palestine or coloured man, whose name was Jeshua, born in the tribe of king David, who became better known in the West as Jesus Christ or Issou, “Ya Zeus” (“Yea-Zeus”), meaning “Hail Zeus”.

Though many may say, like bill:

Christmas is not about the toys, the trinkets, and the packages. Christmas is about love, family, friends, and sharing. And Christmas, for a certain 44 year old man in middle America, is about joyful memories. Today’s will add to that collection.

but always in those memories, on the different blogs, we nowhere find a reference of Christ Jesus, which they call the reason of the season. Is it than not strange they not mention this Jewish man more? How does it come that they may forget the “most important reason of the season” and would not talk more about this man had done for humanity? Jeffrey Bing his blog was one of the exceptions where I could find something written on Christian values and on Jesus, being the Christ or Messiah, having given his life for us.

So should we not wonder ho much the Christians absorbed from other religions or pagan practices and got carried away from their real ‘reason of the season’?

Bill recognises:

Maybe being absorbent opens us up to taking in new vital nutrients. Take all of this with a grain of salt, as its coming from a guy who hasn’t missed too many meals, even back in the day. I’ve got the old videos to prove it.. {Absorption rate}

Christmas is about tradition, and for the Bings, tradition has included full days of family time and not leaving the company of the nest on the magical day.

But the times, they are a changin’, and change brings new traditions, and new people, into our lives. And new can be good, even if it takes red tie giving sweeties away on Christmas day, to spend time with sweeties of their own.

Red ties, red eyes, red sweaters, red letters. Amen. Change can be a good thing. {Red Letter Day}

Would it all not be better to come to the core of the business and celebrate the holy day Jesus himself gave? Namely the 14th of Nisan, the day also god asks us to remember the exodus of His People and to remember the New Covenant. there we can see the red, not from a Father Christmas, the figure Coca-Cola created with the red coat, but the red from the blood of the man Jesus, who offered himself for the sins of many.

in today’s world much of the original meaning of Christmas has been lost in the hustle and bustle of this most wonderful time of the year.

writes a Texan (girl?) on “Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” — Margaret Thatcher

it is frankly a little disheartening to me to think that one can celebrate Christmas without mentioning Christ at all.

she continues and looks at Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth as a little baby in order to live a perfect life,

and die on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sin in order that our relationship with God might be restored and we can spend eternity with him.

But soon she also goes into talking about traditions, believing

it is very important to keep Christ in many of our Christmas traditions so that we can remember what He has done for us – but some things we do, we do for FUN – and that is perfectly okay too. Jesus did say, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

She found it fun to identify which ones were, a part of her growing up, and which ones she wants to continue in her new family. Then people come to see that the Christmas traditions may be totally different, from one family to an other. Then they either have to go for one or the other tradition or have to make a blend. that is what they think, but nobody has the courage to really do thorough research and come to the conclusions according the Holy Scriptures and commandments of God. Most Christians do want to keep the tradition. That is the difficult part the apostles Paul and John were talking about when they wrote about Jesus his words of being part of the world, being in or outside this world and choosing for the World of God.

Those in the world want to keep on to those fun Traditions, and that is what makes them not so different form the gentiles or non-Christians. they are mostly concerned about:

  1. Christmas Trees
  2. Gift Giving
  3. Stockings
  4. Caroling
  5. Mistletoe
  6. Santa Claus
  7. Gingerbread Houses
  8. Christmas Cards
  9. Advent Calendars
  10. Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

Traditions very dear to many people their heart.

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of t...

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of this Christmas display with over 3.5 million lights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But should our heart not be with Christ Jesus, and should our thoughts not be filled with his teachings? Did Jesus not enough explain it has nothing to do with outside appearances, but has all to do with the inside of the hearth and the following of God His commandments and not following the world.

Who do you want to follow? Do you want to follow traditions, because you are ashamed that people would give some nasty remarks, because you do not join in in the festivities to show off with the ‘nicest tree’, the most ‘Christmas decorations’ in the street and do not join the Christmas parties with lots of “heavy music”?

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Preceding article: The imaginational war against Christmas

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Additional reading:

  1. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  2. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  3. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  4. History of Christianity
  5. Birth of Christ – articles
  6. The nativity story
  7. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  8. God’s Special Gift
  9. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  10. Christmas trees
  11. A season of gifts
  12. Sancta Claus is not God
  13. Judeo-Christian values and liberty
  14. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God
  15. Warning! Get Out of Her – My People!
  16. What do you want for Christmas

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  • O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! (how2makelemonade.wordpress.com)
    One of my favorite parts of Christmas is decorating for the season.  Christmas decorations just make a house look so warm and cozy.
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    My style for Christmas is pretty traditional.  I like the traditional Christmas colors, red, white, and green.  Plus many of my ornaments look vintage, but most of them came from Target.  The vintage ornaments give the tree a classic feel that doesn’t look like some fancy designer did it.
  • Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches (charlieandmummy.wordpress.com)
    Normally by this time of year I am well and truly into the Christmas spirit organising the concerts at school and performing with band. It feels strange to not be out playing carols and concerts, but good to not be dashing around like a crazy lady. Instead we will be enjoying every little detail of Charlies first Christmas.
  • O Christmas Tree (lillian888.wordpress.com) reblogged from> O Christmas Tree on which I like the photo’s, and where you can find a decorated ladder, strings of lights and a very tall ceiling.
    +
    Here are some truly fantastic Christmas trees. Remember how I was thinking this might be the year I create a theme tree? These photos are full of inspiration!
  • On My Christmas Non Tree Tree (chasingtheblackwood.wordpress.com) you may find an other ladder tree, where scented candles shall have to bring in “happy Christmas scents”.
  • Hunting for a Christmas Tree (magnuspittmanblog.wordpress.com)
    After we found our perfect tree one of the workers cut it down for us and then we got a ride back down to the farm entrance with our tree!  We had a busy rest of the weekend so the tree is not decorated yet, but stay tuned for more photos when we are able to put it up!
  • Oh Christmas tree, MY Christmas tree (longwalksanddarkchocolate.com)
    With all of the ornaments laid out on the kitchen table this year, I made a decision.  I was going to split them and ship them!
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    What was in it for me?  To be honest, as I packed all the cute, kiddie looking ornaments, I was dreaming of a tree similar to one I’d encountered on Pinterest, with a woodland animal theme.  You might think I’m not sentimental enough and that I should be pining for the ornament that a 6yr old made in art class.  Well, I did keep a couple that were made by their own little hands.  However, not for my tree; just for the memory.  I much prefer the memories of spending time with them and our conversations and laughter to things.
    +
    We can’t dwell on the past and the way things were.  Things and people change and we can’t allow ourselves to get bogged down in the yesterdays and how things used to be.  We grow, people pass on, family members move, more members are added.
  • Christmas Traditions: Ornaments (ourlittlefamilyadventure.wordpress.com)
    Growing up, my brother and I always received a  new Christmas tree ornament. It was either a beautiful handmade glass ornament or something to commemorate a special event that year. It was something to be cherished and saved to be hang up the following year. My mother saved all these ornaments. When I was married, she gave me a collection of Christmas tree ornaments for my new family tree. It was collection of cherished Christmas memories. There was a Baby’s First Christmas ornament from the day I was born, ornaments from places we’d been, and sports I’d played in school. It was all right there in the box. It’s a great tradition I’m happy to pass down to my children.
  • Christmas Tree (fallinginchocolat.wordpress.com)
    In Belgium we have this holiday called ‘Sinterklaas’ on the 6th of december, and tradition is that in the weekend after this holiday we go buy our christmas tree and decorate it. So Today is the 7th and a saturday which means we went to buy our tree. I must say every year me and my mom have some debate over the tree ( bigger ! no smaller ! ) and how to decorate it.
  • ADVENTageous for Dec 8: Christmas Tree (moredrunkordrunker.wordpress.com)
    Not many in Great Britain held the tradition of a decorated tree until a print featured Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (both of German heritage) standing near their Christmas tree.Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees with an artificial spider, as a Ukrainian legend holds that tinsel originated when a spider wove cobwebs all over a Christmas tree at night and the rising sun turned it to silver. Finding a real spider web on Christmas morning is considered good luck, not a reason to immediately call an exterminator.
  • Worshipping created things. The outward acts of their idolatry. Idolatry is Forbidden. (proclaimingthegospelofchrist.wordpress.com)
    “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. (Acts 17:29)
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    It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

12 thoughts on “Focus on outward appearances

  1. I appreciate that you took enough time to skim my blog to find material for your own. And I do appreciate you gave credit via pingback. However, using my words to validate your concerns over secularism concern me, and I don’t think anyone should be judged based on just one blog post. I am hoping “Focus on Outward Appearances” is not indicative of intolerance and lack of compassion on your part. I feel you can be a very spiritual person and still enjoy the secular. The purpose of my post was to honor and celebrate my Mom. Right now, I’m a bit hurt that my personal celebration of a wonderful woman has been used as ammunition for advancing your personal views, and I feel this is a disservice to my Mom, a very religious and spiritual person. .

    Like

    • Shalom,
      I did have no intention to hurt you. Your mother having been a very religious person would also have brought you certain ideas about faith, god, Jesus, our way to behave etc.. The article gave an overview of how people divided their interest in the Holiday Season and tried to give a picture your mother probably also not would approve of. Today more and more people have their thoughts not on the birth of Jesus Christ as such, but are more concerned how to have a nice holiday, what to do for the festival, where to go on holiday, what friends to invite and what to give them to eat, what presents to buy for whom, etc..

      You yourself may look around you and see what is left over from the Christian connection your mother had with the holiday season and to what it has become today. Probably she also was connected with certain family traditions and in case she celebrated Christmas with all the heathen ornaments, she, because she perhaps did not know better, kept to those things which are an abomination to the Divine Creator God.

      Often we do not know certain elements in our live and because of that we do certain things. But once we start getting to know we should make decisions and turn over the page. so if you say you are a believer in the One God, Creator of everything, and you read the Bible, you should see the Biblical vision and should know what to do in this world with its decorated trees, decorated Easter eggs, etc.

      I do hope you may carry lovely memories of your mother with you for still many years to come.
      In the love of Christ,
      Marcus Ampe

      Like

    • The author of “Focus on outward appearances” genuinely looked at several blogs on Christmas. From those he chose some nice and interesting ones for the readers of Stepping Toes.
      Do yourself a search on the internet and you will come in contact with hundreds of blogs where is written about Christmas and the Holiday Season but in most of them you shall not find much referral to the birth of Christ, the son of God, his Father God the Creator, the salvation, the gospel and the peace message.

      Hindus and Muslims are also religious people. Those living around Brussels celebrating Saint Nicholas on 6 December and those placing Christmas trees in their living, I would think do not celebrate the birth of Christ either. Though for the religious Muslims Jesus is also a prophet and man of God, like he is for us Christians. The problem with several Christians is that they have made Jesus into God Himself, and that they worship statues and portraits of Jesus, Mary, put amulets of Christopher or ‘paternosters’ or rosaries in their car like the Muslims put their prayer-beads at the forefront window of their car. That with the Christmas tree are all elements of worship, which often come from pagan worship which God detest.

      You say your mother was a very religious and spiritual person, but you do not mention of what sort of religious group (which one of the many Christian denominations). Remember also that a religious and a spiritual person can also be a Buddhist or some other religion adherent.

      You mother can also have been a trinitarian who happened to love lots of idolatry and may have learned you that idol-worshipping as well. You also may love all those traditions she has learned you. In respect to your mother, it can be she did not knew better, but does that make you not respectful to her when you change your traditions? You can keep your respect to her or even respect her more by changing yourself by the knowledge you gathered. Every human being has to grow and to continue on his way to God. Everybody shall be on a different step of the ladder in a certain period of his life. Some will not make it to the top, others will succeed to go further, but just a few will be able to enter the small gate to the Kingdom of God.

      Our hope and our aim is to get as many people as possible to be sanctified and able to enter that Kingdom of God.

      Hope to find you there, with the love of the Saviour and
      in the name of Jesus,

      God bless.

      Like

      • I’m glad you find my blog interesting and seem to be concerned for my spiritual well being and that of my mother. However, it is not for you to decide that if one incorporates secular symbols they will not be admitted into the kingdom of God or to decide which religions are more worthy than others, I believe God is a loving, caring God who knows they who have given their best here on Earth and have loved best in His name. I do hope He does not judge you as severely as you judge me, and that you are able to find joy, compassion, and above all tolerance for those you see as somehow less than yourself. For the record. My biggest concern with my blog being used was that the intent of my blog was to honor my mother, Her death was but two years ago, and I feel using my tribute as a way to illustrate what you see as what is wrong in your world is insensitive and un- feeling, and frankly, Not what Jesus would have done.

        Like

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