Do you know what the word 'holiday' actually means? If not, it's all in here. Discover some new and interesting facts about some of the most celebrated days of the year. See how holidays are more than just days off from school. Many of them have a deeper spiritual meaningnot just Christmas and Easter. Find out how you can celebrate each holiday with fun and pizzazz and still honor holiday traditions.
About the Author
Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband, Jim, have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
The Year 'Round Holiday BookIt's a God Thing!
By Nancy Rue
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMaking Holidays Holy Days (Without Driving Everybody Nuts!)
Do this in remembrance of me. 1 Corinthians 11:24
Okay-time to be honest. How often do you look at the calendar to see how many school days there are until your next holiday? And how often does it matter to you what the holiday is, just as long as you get the day off?
Sure, you might like the Memorial Day picnic or the Veterans' Day parade, and maybe your mom bakes a cherry pie for Presidents' Day. But chances are, unless it's Christmas or Thanksgiving, you don't much care about the reason you get to sleep in!
However, there are some holidays that you might want to consider more carefully. Let's begin by looking at the word itself. Holiday is kind of a contraction-like don't for do not-for "holy day." Even though we now refer to practically any day we don't have to go to school as a holiday, originally holy days were just that-days for observing something holy, something that was of God.
Nowadays, some of those holy days, which started out being sacred (holy), have become secular (worldly). Christmas is a good example. This holy day, created to celebrate the birth of Christ, has now become pretty secular. Many people get so busy with cookies, elves, and reindeer that they barely give Jesus and the manger a passing thought. The same is true for Easter, with its bunnies and chicks and baskets of candy, and Halloween, which has become a celebration of all things creepy and scary and disgusting.
Not only that, some of the original holy days and seasons are no longer observed by many Christians. Ever heard of Epiphany or the Feast of Pentecost? Do you know what Advent is? (Hint: It isn't just a time for Christmas shopping.) And how about Lent? Are you thinking it might be that time of year when people give up stuff-like candy and gum, kind of like a diet before they hit the Easter basket? They aren't out-of-date holy days, noted only by those denominations that observe the church year. These special days are important for all Christians because they give us opportunities to remember and celebrate all the things God is in our lives.
Think what it would be like if you never had a day off from school-time to sit back and regroup and get revived for, well, more school. Holy days give us a chance to get juiced up about God so you can get out there and let God live in you and through you.
In this book, we'll take a look at five different holy days and seasons, starting with Advent, which is the spiritual preparation for Christmas. We'll explore Epiphany and then Lent, which is the spiritual preparation for Easter, before taking a look at the Feast of Pentecost. We'll even examine some holidays that aren't part of the church year but are important to us as Americans. We'll look at how all those holidays and seasons got started and how you can celebrate them in a sacred way that will bring you even closer to God-without driving your family whacko at the same time.
Notice that we aren't going to talk a lot about Christmas and Easter, because most families and churches have those pretty well covered. If you observe Advent and Lent, your Christmas and Easter are going to be God-times naturally.
Let's take a look at how these God-given opportunities for celebration work.
How Is This a God Thing?
When Jesus got together with his disciples in the upper room on the night before he died, he gave them some important instructions and showed them how to carry them out. Lifting up the bread, he gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave it to them. "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me," he told them (Luke 22:19).
Then, picking up the cup of wine, he gave thanks for it and told his disciples to drink from that same cup. Then he told them, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20).
Jesus was using the bread and wine as symbols of his body and blood, so that when he was gone, his friends would always remember that he lived on within them, strengthening them and helping them grow the way food helps our bodies to grow. He established a ritual and made that ritual holy. Whether we celebrate Holy Communion once a year or every Sunday, it is a vivid reminder that Jesus is alive, living inside each one of us. By the way, if you happen to be a person who has never taken Communion, don't think Christ can't live in you. It isn't a requirement-it's a beautiful sacrament. What's a sacrament? It's a physical reminder-something you can see with your eyes-that helps you understand a wonderful truth you can't see.
If that's confusing, think about these examples. A wedding is a sign that two people are married. A baptism is a sign that somebody's ready to put Christ in charge of his or her life. A funeral is a sign that someone has died and we're saying good-bye.
Holidays can be signs too. They are holy days when ...
we think about God while we are celebrating them.
we ask God to use our celebration as he wishes. we remember that these celebrations were initiated by God and we are privileged to take part in them.
our celebration leaves us with an impression, almost like a footprint, that reminds us of the importance of the thing we're celebrating. So we remember not only the Easter eggs but also Jesus rising from the dead, not only dressing up like wise men but also God showing himself to us in a real, human life we can understand.
The best thing about holy days is that they don't just last for a day at a time. The Holy Spirit uses the lessons we learn all year long. If you celebrate Christmas with all its sacred symbols and you understand what Jesus' coming here was about, you're going to have Jesus on your mind all the time, reminding you of what kind of person he grew up to be and how you can grow up to be like him. With five days and seasons to celebrate, you're bound to be filled up with God all year long!
CHECK Yourself OUT
Maybe that all makes sense to you already and you want to go for it right now. Or you may be finding all this a little unsettling, because, frankly, you have always liked the egg hunt and the present opening just the way they are, thank you very much. Or it may be that you don't care a lot about holidays one way or the other, except for the fact that you don't have to do math on those days.
Before you read on, why not check out your current holiday 'tude. Choose the answer in each set of three that completes its statement in the way that is the most true for you (even if it doesn't describe you exactly). Be honest! There's no right or wrong reason-there is only you.
The first thing I think about when Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is on its way is ...
a. _____ there will be presents and a Christmas tree and stuff baking in the kitchen and my favorite Christmas songs and a huge turkey dinner.
b. _____ I probably won't get what I want, my dad will be grouchy, and all my cousins are coming, and I'll have to entertain them.
c. _____ we'll light the Advent candles and get the manger scene out and start Mary and Joseph on their journey and practice for the pageant at church.
When I start getting ready for Easter ...
a. _____ I want to shop for a new outfit and dye eggs and hope I'm not too old for an Easter basket, with those wonderful chocolate bunnies.
b. _____ I don't want to go to church because my outfit is dumb, and I don't want any candy because I'll get fat, and I don't want to hide eggs for the little kids because I know I'll step in dog poop.
c. _____ I can't wait to sing all those Christ-has-risen songs and see everything looking all colorful and newborn. When Halloween rolls around ...
a. _____ I get my costume ready, make a new trick-or-treat bag, and beg my parents to let me go to the haunted house.
b. _____ I wonder if I'm too old to wear a costume and go out trick or treating, and I dread those parties where they make you bob for apples and get your hair all wet.
c. _____ I kind of ignore it because I'm not into ghosts and goblins and witches and all that other stuff that doesn't seem very Christian.
Although I do kind of envy kids who are having fun with it and getting candy.
During that really long stretch between Easter and Halloween ...
a. _____ I get totally into Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and the whole beach and vacation thing.
b. _____ I get really bored because except for summer vacation there's not that much to celebrate.
c. _____ I wish we had more holidays that are holy days, and I'd like to know more about the ones other people celebrate-like the Feast of the Pentecost.
Count up your a's, b's, and c's and write the numbers in the spaces below:
If you had more a's, you are a person who really likes to celebrate-and that's good! You have a sense of joy and fun and excitement that jazzes up everybody around you. As you read this book, you'll want to find out how you can carry that celebration side of yourself into the sacred observance of the holy days. You won't have to give up the Easter basket or the cookie baking. You'll just learn more ways to make the holy days special, ways that will have even more meaning to you than "Let's party!" You're going to have a good time with this book.
If you had more b's, your zest for holidays has kind of fizzled out. Maybe you've had a lot of disappointments, or as you've gotten older the kid side of the celebrations has stopped being fun. This is good because it means you are dissatisfied with the way you have celebrated these days in the past, and you're ready for a change. As you read this book, look for ideas that inspire you-that make you want to get up and try them out. Then go for it. You may end up with a brand-new holiday 'tude.
If you had more c's, you probably already see how precious these holy days can be and how they are one of the ways you can feel God close to you. As you read this book, you'll get all kinds of new ideas for making your celebrations even more sacred. Don't forget to share them with friends who may fall into the "b" category!
Girlz WANT TO KNOW
LILY: I'm already jazzed about celebrating holy days, and I haven't even read the book yet! But I also already know that if I suggest anything to my family, my brothers are going to say I'm freaking out and my mom's going to say, "I don't think we have the time or the money for all that stuff, Lily." I'm afraid I'm never gonna be able to make any of it happen.
Lil, you have the challenge a lot of go-get-'em, high-energy girls have. You go after everything 150 percent and don't understand why it wears your family out! That isn't a bad thing-a world without Lilys would be a pretty boring place. But it does mean you'll need to adjust your enthusiasm to the rest of the household. Try this.
Make a super-duper wish list of everything you'd like to do in observing a holiday in a sacred way (as you read further in this book).
Go through your list and cross out anything you already know isn't going to get parental approval-like acting out the manger scene on the front lawn every night for the whole twelve days of Christmas, using live animals, your dad in a Joseph costume, well, you get the idea.
Put a star by the remaining ideas that you really want to do.
Then go to your folks with this simplified, streamlined plan. If it still isn't streamlined enough for them, negotiate for a few of the ideas with the stars by them.
If you have to be content with only one of your new additions to the family celebration, let that be enough for now and make it wonderful. Next time, your parents might be open to a few more of your suggestions.
Remember that your siblings may not get what the big deal is all about and that could cause them to pooh-pooh just about anything you come up with. So don't expect rave reviews and undying gratitude even if it does come off well. Unless, of course, you ask them to contribute some suggestions of their own.
SUZY: This all sounds wonderful, but my problem is that my family doesn't even go to church. I go with my friends. If I come home and start talking about Jesus while we're dyeing Easter eggs-well, I'm not sure how that's going to go over.
That's a toughie-not just when it comes to holidays but the rest of the time as well. Maybe suggestions about making holidays more sacred will give you a chance to show them how going to church and developing a relationship with God is making a difference to you. Maybe they would be more open to your explaining the Jesse Tree you're making for your room than if you suddenly started chattering at the dinner table about Isaiah's prophecies. Just keep a couple of things in mind:
Start small, maybe with something that involves only you. Then add things that include them a little at a time-maybe even when next Easter or Epiphany comes around.
Don't try to shove it down anybody's throat or make your family feel like they're "less than" because they don't go to church Christmas Eve or don't know what the word Pentecost means. The last thing you want to do is let anybody think Christianity is some kind of exclusive society they can get into only if they're good enough or if they observe certain holy days. Make what you do inviting and nonthreatening.
Don't push, whine, plead, beg, or do anything that is sure to get you sent to your room. If your family isn't ready, back off, pray for them, and observe the holy days the best you can. God won't let you be lonely in it for long. Hang in there.
RENI: I'm confused. I have some friends who say that if you don't take Communion every Sunday or you miss church on Good Friday, you aren't saved unless you do all this repenting-I don't know. It makes it sound like you have to celebrate these holy days or God won't love you or something.
It sounds like your friends are the ones who are a little confused. Let's see if we can't set things straight for you. Sacraments-like Communion and baptism-and the sacred celebration of holy days are reminders of the things they represent. You take Communion to remind you that Jesus gave his body and blood so that you can live with him alive in you. It isn't the bread or the wine or the grape juice that are important. And it isn't how often you take them that's the real deal either.
Excerpted from The Year 'Round Holiday Book by Nancy Rue Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Making Holidays Holy Days
(Without Driving Everybody Nuts!) 6
2. Christmas Is Coming 18
3. Making Christmas Last Longer 44
4. Easter's on Its Way 52
5. The Feast of Pentecost
A Birthday Celebration 74
6. God Bless America 90
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book. It's really cool. I can't wait 'til the next holiday so i can try the other ideas in it. GREAT BOOK! check it out.
This book is awesome! I love the 'Lily' series. This book tells everything you'd want to know about holidays. Buy it...makes a great gift for a teen/preteen!