Outside my house today is quite dreary – cold rain. This time of year if it is going to be cold, I’d rather it snow! But it isn’t and promises the dreary, cold, damp weather for the next couple of days. Not Christmasy at all.

In contrast, inside my home are all the decorations: shiny balls, lights, greenery, music playing, angels and Santas placed around, good smells emanating from the kitchen. It all speaks of anticipation.

The whole world anticipates Christmas by their shopping, gift giving, partying, decorating…everyone talks about the “Christmas spirit”. Some bemoan that they just don’t “feel” it. Others are too depressed or lonely to really celebrate. And the celebration seems to mock them. Others talk in terms of the economic impact on economies. How much do we spend?

As we shop, party, decorate, purchase gifts, why do we do it? What is it we are anticipating? Do folks really anticipate the real reason for Christmas? Do they even know what it is and how it came to be?

Vaguely, people may remember that Christmas is somehow connected to church and Jesus but they are busy gift buying and planning for their parties. “Tis the season…” The Gospels don’t tell us the season or date of Jesus’ birth. All we know are the circumstances and the purpose of His birth.

There was a pagan celebration long before Jesus was born. In the Roman Empire it was the celebration of the sun god marked by festivals and gift giving. In 336 AD Emperor Constantine converted it from a pagan holiday to the Christians’ celebration of Jesus’ birth. Which is why we celebrate on December 25th. But we can celebrate any day of the year – we should celebrate Jesus’ birth every day!

One year when my kids were all scheduled to be with in laws or away for one reason or another they were concerned for me being alone. I told them that December 25th is just a date on the calendar. We can celebrate anytime. And should celebrate all the time.

Jesus – the 2nd person of the Godhead – took on the form of an embryo in His mother’s womb. He went through the normal gestation period and was pushed through the birth canal into a dreary, cold world. But a world where some folks anticipated the Messiah’s birth: shepherds in the fields watching over sheep used for sacrifice in the temple, three Magi who saw an unusual sight in the heavens and followed it to Bethlehem. They could sense the anticipation…do we? Are we anticipating the real reason for Christmas?

More from Beliefnet and our partners