"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.' When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
They said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"
Tradition: Giving Gifts
Activity: Deliver goody bags
Materials: small bags, cookies, sugared nuts, mini loaves of bread, and other treats that you have made.
Directions: Deliver your bags to the people on the list you and your children made back on December 2.
Every year people complain about how expensive Christmas has become. And every year people go to the stores months in advance to find the perfect present for their loved ones. The stores definitely take advantage of this desire. But when did this tradition start? Christmas wasn't always about buying expensive gifts.
Before Christ was born, in Ancient Rome, people exchanged gifts on the New Year. The gifts were generally food or plants. In the northern most parts of Europe, people exchanged gifts of bread or alcohol. Some ancient rulers demanded that gifts be brought to them during the New Year's celebration. One year, Henry III close the doors of all the merchants in England by force because he was not impressed by the monetary gifts they had brought.
Just like many pagan traditions, early church leaders gave up fighting against them and turned the tradition into a Christian one. They changed the timing of the gift giving from New Years to Christmas. The church used the Bible passage in the Gospel of Matthew about the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ Child as justification for the giving of gifts.
Like many of our Christmas traditions, it was really the Victorians who breathed new life into giving of gifts. Warmth, friendship, and charity were all big parts of the Victorian Christmas tradition. It is no surprise then that great care was taken in picking out presents, especially for those who were economically challenged.
Often the gift itself was not even the point, but how it was given. Families played games to distribute their gifts. One of these games was called cobwebs. Each person was assigned a different color. Yarn was wrapped in a cobweb in a room in those different colors. Each person had to find their color and untangle themselves through the cobweb to find their present. Sometimes presents would be hidden and clues would be left. In every case, the giving of the gift was just as fun as the getting.
I hope that you have enjoyed preparing your items for your goody bags with your kids. Even something so simple will make people very happy. You will be surprised!