“There are numerous traditions regarding the visit of the wise men, many of them not based in fact, but more on myth or speculation. Here are a few of the myths about this famous visit.”
A well-known part of the Christmas story in scripture is the “wise” men who visited Jesus after his birth and presented him with gifts. There are numerous traditions regarding this visit with many of them not based in fact, but more on myth or speculation. Here are a few of the myths about this famous visit:
- They were kings: There is nothing that states they were kings.
- There were three of them: We do not know how many there were with some traditions saying the number was as high as twelve.
- We know their names: We have no idea what their names were.
- They rode camels: They did come from Arabia but in Jesus’s time travel from Arabia was done on horse.
- They arrived when Jesus was born: Jesus may have been as old as two when they showed up.
What we do know for sure was the gifts they gave to Jesus; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were very expensive at that time in history and quite honestly a strange combination of gifts for a child. When you know the full story of Jesus and his life on earth it is not hard to see that these gifts had significant symbolism; gold representing royalty and his kingship, frankincense representing his deity as it was used in the temple for worship, and myrrh representing his death as it was a spice used for burial during that time.
These gifts given as part of the Christmas story is one of the reasons why the giving of gifts is such an important tradition of the season. I love that gifts are a major part of this “holiday,” but like many others, do worry that it has become too much of the focus. Here are a few suggestions related to ‘un-focusing’ gifts as the focus of Christmas:
- Limit gift giving from parents to each child at three. It helps curtail the overabundance we see in today’s gift giving while tying it back to this part of the story for your kids.
- Associate the gifts you give with the three types of gifts given: a gift of jewelry, precious metal, or something your child treasures (gold), a gift to encourage their spiritual walk – devotional book, Bible, Christian novel, Christian music, etc, (frankincense), and a gift for their body – shoes, clothes, sports equipment, etc. (myrrh). This type of giving associates the gifts with an important part of the story and reminds your children of it.
- Ask your children to give you a list of what they want, what they need, and something to read, and purchase just one of each.
No matter what you do, or traditions you develop for your family, the idea of giving gifts is a good one that ultimately shows those important to us how much we care about them and is a part of the blessing of Christmas.
In relation to gift-giving, I would like to thank our community for the “gifts” given to the Annual Fund and am very excited to announce that we reached our goal for this year. The generosity of the Dalat community is a blessing to us all!
Header art is by Joseph Christian Leyendecker. He was a German-American illustrator and considered to be one of the preeminent American illustrators of the early 20th century. He died in 1951.
Written by Karl Steinkamp
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