Can you believe it? Here we are again in the month of December facing the end of yet another year. They tell us (whoever ‘they’ are) that it is the most wonderful time of the year. So let me tell you a little bit about the month of December.
It is of course the twelfth and last month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Along with seven other months it is made up of 31 days.
In the Southern Hemisphere, December is the seasonal equivalent to June in the Northern Hemisphere, which is the first month of summer. December is the month with the shortest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest daylight hours of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
And did you know that the month of December always starts on the same day of the week as the month of September and ends on the same day of the week as April every year. As Michael Caine says, ‘not a lot of people know that!’
Believe it or not December gets its name from the Latin word decem meaning ten, because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the Roman calendar, which to confuse us even more, began in March. The winter days following December were not included as part of any month. Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.
The Anglo Saxons used to call the month of December ‘Winter Monath’ or ‘Yule Monath’ because of the custom of burning a Yule Log around this time of the year.
Historically, all types of things have happened during the month of December. For instance:
On December 28th 1065 the consecration of Westminster Abbey took place.
On December 29th 1170 Archbishop Thomas à Becket was martyred in his own cathedral.
On December 13th 1577 Sir Francis Drake set sail around the world in the Golden Hind.
On December 2nd 1697 St Paul’s Cathedral in London was officially opened.
On December 24th 1818 the hymn Silent Night was first sung.
On December 5th 1901 Walt Disney was born.
On December 17th 1903 Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first powered aeroplane flight.
On December 24th 1937 the film Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs was premiered.
On December 29th 1957 the one and only Philip Charles Weaver was born!!!!!!! (Who’s he?!?!)
On December 5th 1958 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan opened the UK’s first Motorway.
On December 10th 1960 the first episode of Coronation Street was aired.
On December 1st 1990 the Channel Tunnel was opened, connecting England with France and mainland Europe.
But what typically happens in the month of December nowadays? Actually it’s much more than you think. For example:
December 1st marks World AIDS Day
December 3rd has been designated as the International Day Of People With Disability
December 4th is National Cookie Day – other snacks celebrated this month include Pie, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Brownies (mmm!), Cocoa, and Cupcakes!!!
December 10th is marked as Human Rights Day – and it is also the day the Nobel Prizes are awarded, on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death
The first day of Winter is on either December 21 or 22. This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It is called the Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.
And of course December 31st is New Year’s Eve
December also marks such days as International World Aviation Day, National Pastry Day, International Children’s Day and International Ice Cream Day amongst other things.
And most importantly of course, December is the month when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now some might argue that the Christmas Festive Season is a rip-off from a former pagan festival. And there are those who hold firm to the fact that the birth of Christ should never be celebrated in December because no one knows the exact time of the year when He was born, etc. But surely they are missing the whole point and honestly, in my opinion, they need to get a life!
Christmas time is the accepted time when we remember and celebrate the importance of the Incarnation of Christ. It is when we specifically highlight the fact that because of His great love for us, ‘God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’. Christmas time is the time we specifically remember that ‘the Word (God Himself) became flesh and dwelt amongst us’. This is exactly what the word incarnate means – to become or take on the form of flesh. It is indeed a primary underlying truth that we should never forget.
The Incarnation is well worthy of celebration! And why wouldn’t we want to celebrate the greatest day and event in history, and why wouldn’t we want to let the whole world know about the good news? Now I can almost hear you saying, ‘but surely the greatest day/event in history was the time surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection – when Jesus dealt with our sins and through His resurrection gave us the promise of new life’. Well, it’s a fair point, but equally it could be argued that without the Incarnation there would never have been the Cross and Resurrection. The truth is the Incarnation, the Cross and the Resurrection all go hand in hand, they are inseparable and are all a part of the same package. When you think about it, any one aspect on its own is useless without the others!
The incarnation of Jesus is when the human nature was added to the Divine nature of God, and so the second person of the Trinity became flesh. It is where God became a man (John 1:1-14; Phil. 2:5-8). It was the voluntary act of Jesus to humble himself so that he might die for our sins (1 Pet. 3:18). Thus, Jesus has two natures: Divine and human. He was Fully God and Fully Man. This is the core, indispensable doctrine of the Christian faith.
The month of December is the one time to specifically celebrate the fact that Christ Jesus loved us so much He took on the form of flesh and became man. In doing so He totally identified Himself with mankind by becoming one of us. And in doing so He prepared the way to save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
Sure, there are many superstitions that have become a part of the Christmas period. But that shouldn’t prevent us as God’s children from embracing and celebrating the truth of the matter – that ‘God became man and dwelt amongst us’. As the Prince of Preachers Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, ‘let us be wise in celebrating that which is true and right and leave all the superstitions to the superstitious.’
We say – enjoy the Christmas season, the gifts, the decorations, the trees, the carols, the food and meeting up with friends and family. But most of all celebrate its real meaning – the Incarnation of Christ.
Whatever you do in this month of December, keep Christ at the very centre of your Christmas – He fully deserves to be right in the middle of it all – after all, it’s all about Him!