It is said that Christians took over the old Yuletide festival and made it into Christmas. Very likely they did, but can we agree that Christmas is better?
When you got to the shortest day of the year then it was worth celebrating that the days would now get longer and the warm summer sun would begin to return. But when the one who created the sun and light itself - when The Light of the World comes into the world then it is really time to light candles and to string sparkling lights around our houses and streets.
When the stores of winter food began to shrink then it was worth having one good feast to mark the passing of mid-winter and the hope that planting and harvesting would not be too far away. But when the one who can give the food that sustains people not just through one year but for eternity – when the Bread of Life comes into the world then it is really time to open a bottle or two, to spread a table with the best food that we can afford and to eat with joy.
When the dark days of winter were at their most oppressive then it seemed worthwhile to sacrifice animals as gifts to the gods who might control the seasons and the fertility of the earth. But when the one who does not demand sacrifice but instead freely offers himself as a sacrifice to buy for us freedom from guilt – when the Gift of God comes into the world then it is really time to fill our houses with the sound of ripping wrapping paper and the cries of thanks for gifts given in love.
Do we think that it was wrong to take a winter festival and fill it with Christ? Jesus Christ glorifies and transforms everything he touches; the world in the depths of its barren winter death sparkles with light and life as His birth is celebrated.