We love that this week much of the world moves toward the ultimate celebration of the birth of Christ.
Despite all the upset, turmoil and uncertainty, Christmas comes; and with it comes wonderful family traditions. Traditions are passed down from one generation to the next, making for solid, strong families.
Everyone at Defending the Republic prays that you all have safe travels and make lasting memories with people you love.
If you are traveling or staying home, here are a few nice stories to read or listen to. We hope you will also share them.
1- Red Pilled America is a podcast dedicated to the art of story telling. In this episode they do a fascinating deep dive into the history of Santa Claus. You will learn why they think that Santa Claus was one of the greatest American inventions.
Red Pilled America
An Act of Genius
Why did Santa Claus become so popular? To find the answer, we tell the remarkable story of how a 1,500 year old saint transformed into the jolly old soul from the North Pole. And stick around after the show for a preview of our new Christmas Eve special. This episode was originally broadcast on December 20, 2018.
2- Salena Zito tells stories of how the loss of many traditions due to the year of Covid-CCP impacted people. It seems that this year everyone is trying harder to bring them back and enjoy every minute.
Middle of Somewhere: The Christmas Tree Capital, like all of us, missed holiday rituals
QUOTE: INDIANA, Pa. — Sandy Fritz has been baking Christmas cookies with someone in her family for nearly all of her 82 years. It began for her as a young girl in nearby Punxsutawney with her mother and her aunts, a ritual she continued with her own daughter, Amy, as a young mother; each time they baked, she didn’t just share the secret ingredients she had memorized along the way, but also the stories of the women, hardships and triumphs that shaped her family.
“Carrying on traditions in families is very important to me. It always has been,” said Laura. “It is something that my parents instilled in all of us.” Laura’s brothers Luke and Eric had just spent the past couple of weeks deer hunting with their father Ted — like they always do — in the days following Thanksgiving, a tradition Ted still does with his father, Don Fritz, as well.
Drive into this town from any direction and you are greeted with signs that boast the fact you’re entering the Christmas Tree Capital of the World — a title the town earned because the first pines and spruces planted here a hundred years ago gave them domination in the market in post-World War II America, a domination that caught the attention of the national press in 1956 when over 700,000 trees were cut in the county that year.
The trees are just a part of why this town is symbolic of any place in America — large or small — that values the continuation of Christmas traditions, rituals large and small that fill us with the aspiration that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, something that not only came before us but also something we can pass on to generations after we are long gone.
Laura Herrington, executive director of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, said most of all the rich traditions the town has held for decades — like the Christmas Parade, outdoor markets, caroling in the park and even the Jimmy Stewart festival — were either closed or held virtually.
Ms. Herrington said that wasn’t just hard economically, “It took away many traditions people rely on as this sort of comfort and connection to their past, and for young parents it was hard because they could not share those traditions with their children.”
This year Ms. Herrington said the parade was one of the highest-attended in its decade-long history; caroling is back; all of the museums are open, including the Jimmy Stewart Museum — and families are enjoying the bonfires, roasted marshmallows and camaraderie in the town square in the shadow of the giant Indiana Christmas Tree.
She thinks of the town of Indiana as the sort of everyman of communities all around the country that are embracing something they may have previously taken for granted — “And that is not just tradition, but also anticipation. Through loss we have rediscovered the richness of that emotion, and what is happening here in Indiana — and in small towns, cities and neighborhoods all across America — really reminds everyone how important those qualities are in our lives.”
3- Among the best Christmas traditions is the singing of Christmas carols. Lauren Green, the religion reporter for Fox News, explains why these songs are so important.
Christmas hymns are important for three key reasons
QUOTE: First, they remind us of the power of the Gospel.
Second, God gave us the skill and the command to sing, and He can be glorified even in good secular music.
And finally, they remind us of our complete reliance on the grace of God.
One of the hymns I just love is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” The carol describes a scene that Luke relates in chapter 2, verse 14.
As we celebrate Christmas less than a week from now, we know that “God chose to send His son to us as a gift, creating a chance for our relationship with Him to be reconciled,” says Lauren Green in her thoughtful essay. Two of the founding ministers of Methodism, George Whitefield and Charles Wesley, contributed to the lyrics, which are set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn, the great German composer famous for the oratories “St. Paul” and “Elijah.”
The song begins with “Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.'”
That last statement, “God and sinners reconciled,” reflects what Jesus was born to do and heralded for all mankind. Humanity can now be reconciled with God, because God chose to send His son to us as a gift, creating a chance for our relationship with Him to be reconciled.
“Every heart, really, when it sings, is ultimately singing to God,” she says.
We sin but we can be redeemed through God’s grace.
That is what makes Christianity what it is.
Listen to this exquisite version. Charlotte Church – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
4- The most beloved Christmas carol of all time was born out of chaos over 200 years ago. The history is fascinating and knowing it makes this song even more beautiful and meaningful.
The Humble Origins of ‘Silent Night’
QUOTE: Over the centuries, hundreds of Christmas carols have been composed. Many fall quickly into obscurity.
Not “Silent Night.”
Translated into at least 300 languages, designated by UNESCO as a treasured item of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and arranged in dozens of different musical styles, from heavy metal to gospel, “Silent Night” has become a perennial part of the Christmas soundscape.
Its origins – in a small Alpine town in the Austrian countryside – were far humbler.
As a musicologist who studies historical traditions of song, the story of “Silent Night” and its meteoric rise to worldwide fame has always fascinated me.
The song’s lyrics were originally written in German just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars by a young Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr.
In the fall of 1816, Mohr’s congregation in the town of Mariapfarr was reeling. Twelve years of war had decimated the country’s political and social infrastructure. Meanwhile, the previous year – one historians would later dub “The Year Without a Summer” – had been catastrophically cold.
The eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora in 1815 had caused widespread climate change throughout Europe. Volcanic ash in the atmosphere caused almost continuous storms – even snow – in the midst of summer. Crops failed and there was widespread famine.
Mohr’s congregation was poverty-stricken, hungry and traumatized. So he crafted a set of six poetic verses to convey hope that there was still a God who cared.
“Silent night,” the German version states, “today all the power of fatherly love is poured out, and Jesus as brother embraces the peoples of the world.”
5- Speaking of storytelling, few have surpassed O. Henry and “The Gift of the Magi”.
Defending The Republic