For many, Christmas is the Christian festival of the year. It is a time to reflect on the birth of our Lord and Saviour, to put aside differences we may have with others, and get into the spirit of giving.
It is also a time for families. Parents delight at watching their children open their presents and are reminded of their own childhood. Some determine to give their children the kind of Christmas they themselves never had. Adult children spend quality time with their own parents and siblings.
At school, youngsters take part in the Nativity play. Who will take the part of Joseph, Mary, King Herod or one of the Three Wise Men? How will they realise the manger in the stable and the supernatural star sent by God to guide them to the baby Jesus?
Across the centuries, a great deal of tradition has grown around the celebration. In 1600s the English banned Christmas, declaring it to be pagan and an insult to the Lord. But since the festival was popularised by Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, it has become associated with the doing of good to others.
Tagged on to the Biblical themes since then has been the legend of a mysterious benefactor, known in the Western world as Father Christmas and Santa Claus, who visits all of the world’s children on Christmas Eve leaving them presents in a sack.
But how much of this is from the Gospels of the New Testament, and does it matter?
This is your at-a-glance guide. With very little exposition from the author, this is Just the Bible on the subject of Christmas.