13 Dec Getting Back to the Meaning of Christmas with Your Child
The Christmas adverts are out, the high-street is pumping out festive tunes, and letters to Santa are being penned. With Christmas edging ever closer, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and excess that the festive season brings. But amongst all the chaos and consumerism, have we forgotten the important spiritual meaning of Christmas, especially as parents? As Catholics, celebrating the real meaning of Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It also signifies God’s love for us, giving us his only son.
So, as the festivities begin, it’s a timely opportunity to talk to your child about the symbolism and significance of events during the festive period. Here’s seven ways you can do just that:
If your child looks forward to treat-filled advent calendars every year, use this as a chance to explain the true spirit of advent. Meaning ‘coming’, advent lasts for the four Sundays in the run up to Christmas, as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. As each door is opened in their calendar, talk about how Mary and Joseph might have been feeling in anticipation of their new baby.
The Nativity Play
At this time of year, schools and churches put together nativity plays for children to take part in. Funny costumes aside, it’s also one of the most powerful ways of celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. Some parents find that nativity books at bedtime, or a nativity film is a great way to talk about the true meaning of the festive season.
Oh Christmas Tree!
Decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most joyful moments of the season. But did you know that the meaning of Christmas tree has its foundations in Christianity? The tree is believed to represent Jesus Christ and the light he brings into the world.
That’s not all, placing an angel on the top of the tree is symbolic of the angels at the nativity scene. As you dress the tree together, talk about how these symbols pay tribute to Jesus.
As your child writes their list to Santa, remind them that gift giving is a tribute to the gifts the Three Wise Men gave to Jesus in the Nativity. Have some fun and ask your child what those gifts were and what they represented? Gold of course represents kingship, frankincense symbolises deity, and myrrh representing suffering. It’s a great way to learn more about the nativity, whilst remembering and celebrating the real meaning of Christmas.
Giving in other ways
Giving, of course, doesn’t always have to be in the context of gifts. There are many ways we can give our time, love and support to others at this time of year. Explain to your child how people volunteer their time to charities at Christmas, or perhaps lead by example and invite an elderly friend or relative into your home at Christmas, that might otherwise be alone.
Children’s stories about the true meaning of Christmas often talk about the bright starry night. The next time you’re out with your child and the stars are shining, talk about how it might have felt to be a shepherd on that special night, especially as the angels suddenly appeared to them. It can be an evocative way of talking about the nativity to your child.
Christmas card art
Here’s a fun activity you can enjoy with your child. Ask them to draw a scene from the nativity for a Christmas card. Talk about the manger scene – who was there, how they might have been feeling, the smells and the sounds. There are many websites where you can upload the artwork and create cards to share with your friends and family.
So there you have it, seven ways to invoke the spiritual meaning of Christmas with your child.