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The True Meaning of Christmas

The meaning of Christmas is found in the very word itself: Cristes Maesse or “Christ’s Mass,” an Old English term for “celebration for Christ.” Beyond traditional December festivities, however, the true meaning of Christmas celebrates Jesus Christ’s birth and honors His divinity, His perfect example of charity, and the significance of His impact on the world.

You can discover the meaning of Christmas in three ways:

It’s hard to overlook the significance of Jesus in history. His very birth, which Christmas commemorates, delineates all time before Christ (years BC) and since (anno domini, the year of our Lord, or AD). Jesus Christ is the center and namesake of all Christian religions and is worshipped by His followers across the world. And Jesus is recognized as a great prophet and spiritual leader by other major religions. But it is Jesus Christ’s impact on all humanity that gives significance to the celebration that recalls His name. 

Although Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 by religious and secular communities worldwide, at its core, the significance of Christmas is in honoring Jesus every day.

Rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ

Did you know the birth of Jesus was anticipated for centuries? Moses wrote that God would “raise up … a Prophet” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Isaiah famously foretold, “For unto us a child is born, … and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Even Nephi, an ancient prophet in the Americas, knew of the virgin who “is the mother of the Son of God” (1 Nephi 11:18).

The birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled these prophecies. So it’s no wonder that at His birth, heaven rejoiced and began the celebrations: “A multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13–14).

Rejoice

You can demonstrate the meaning of Christmas by celebrating the birth of Jesus. Sing carols that commemorate that holy event. Join the world in praising God. Be like the original shepherds who “made known abroad” (Luke 2:17) this glorious event.

Remember Jesus and follow His example

The true meaning of Christmas, however, goes beyond a single day or season of celebration. “Rejoice in the Lord,” the Bible encourages, “give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 97:12). Remembering and giving praise to Jesus is not limited to Christmas but is meant for all times (see Psalm 34:1). You give meaning to Christmas by remembering His example—and following it. “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

Take time for people

A carpenter by profession, Jesus was a powerful teacher who influenced thousands through His sermons. But His attention and time were not aimed at power, money, or fame. Jesus focused on people. He sought out those who were sick and poor (see Matthew 9:35). He gave food to the hungry (see Matthew 15:32). He was not below common tasks, even washing the feet of His disciples (see John 13:4–5). When He was tired after work and travel, He refused to turn away little children, instead welcoming them personally and blessing them (see Matthew 19:13–15). Jesus did not do these things during a specified season, but every day. You can better experience the meaning of Christmas by taking time for people.

Live the true meaning of Christmas

Honor Jesus as the Savior of mankind

Jesus Christ was born to fulfill God’s plan. He lived in such a way that everyone might follow His example (see 1 Peter 2:21). And essentially, He died and was resurrected so that all mankind might have eternal life

The mortal life of Jesus is just a small part of what Christmas is all about. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus’s purpose was to bring people to God, and He taught precisely what you and every person must do.

Keep the commandments

Throughout the scriptures, God has instructed us in the ways we must act. From the Ten Commandments given through Moses (see Exodus 20:1–17) to the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5–7), we are given laws that bless us when followed and have consequences when dismissed. Jesus taught the two greatest commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40).

When you keep God’s commandments, you honor Jesus.

Repent

Jesus exemplified a perfect life without sin. Even as you try to follow His commandments, sometimes you will still fall short. But Jesus also made it possible for those sins to be forgiven—and never remembered again by God! When you confess your wrongdoings to God, forsake what’s been done, and put your faith in the Atonement of Christ, God will “cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is why Jesus was born. This is the gift of Christmas.

Bear testimony of Jesus

Christ was born for all mankind. He suffered to “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). And He was resurrected so that every person who has ever lived may reunite their spirit with their perfected body. So it is necessary that every soul must know—and will know—that Jesus is the Christ, their personal Savior (see Romans 14:11; Mosiah 27:31). Prophets have proclaimed the significance of Jesus Christ to the world. You can too. Share your feelings about Jesus with your family and friends, and live in a way that honors Him. This is living the meaning of Christmas.

Would you like to know more about the true meaning of Christmas? Like many people, you may feel a warmth inside during the Christmas season. Christmas stories and music make you feel uplifted and positive. Maybe you even get goosebumps or feel close to tears. This is the Holy Spirit. He teaches truth and confirms for God what things are good, right, and true. Recognizing that this feeling comes from God is the first step in learning. Help keep the Holy Ghost’s feelings in your life by doing things that reflect the significance of Christmas.

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Learn more about Christmas by requesting a copy of the Holy Bible