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Jesus and Christmas

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At its most basic, Christmas is a religious holiday. Even the name (Christ + mas) is religious, meaning "Christ's Day."

According to the Christian tradition, Christmas, December 25, is the day on which Jesus was born. Jesus is the savior of Christians. He is often called Jesus Christ (which is why his birthday is called "Christ's Day.")

According to the Bible, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a city in Judea. Judea at that time was occupied by the Roman Empire, which had governors take care of the local business in areas like Judea. The man in charge of Judea at that time was Herod, who was told that a baby who would be born soon would grow up to be a great king. Herod took this to mean that his rule would be threatened, so he ordered all babies killed.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, fled with her husband, Joseph, to Bethlehem. Desperate to stay out of sight and tired from their journey, the young couple tried to find a room for the night. All they could find was some room in a stable. That's where Jesus was born, in a manger.

Who showed up to see him depends on what version of Jesus's birth you read in the Bible:

  • In the Book of Matthew, three Wise Men come from the East follow a star in the sky and arrive at the manger with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • In the Book of Luke, shepherds see angels in the sky and leave their flock to go to Bethlehem.

Why is Jesus's birth so important? Christians believe that Jesus became their Savior. They believe that he died to save them. The day Jesus was born was the beginning of the life of their Savior.

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