Archive for November 2007

History of Christmas: the Wise Men

THE WISE MEN You’re familiar with the song that begins “We Three Kings of Orient Are…” but it is inaccurate in at least three ways. We don’t know how many there were, but we know they weren’t kings. They did not originate in the Orient, meaning the Far East. How could they have seen the…

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History of the Christmas Star

HISTORY OF THE STAR The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled scholars for centuries. Some have skeptically dismissed the phenomenon as a myth, a mere literary device to call attention to the importance of the Nativity. Others have argued that the star was miraculously placed there to guide the Magi and is therefore beyond all natural…

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History of Christmas: the Year

.!. THE YEAR It’s obvious that Jesus was born on December 25, A.D. 1, right? Wrong. We do know that Herod the Great (who killed all the babies in Bethlehem younger than 2 years of age) died in the spring of 4 B.C., and the king was quite alive during the visit of the Wise…

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History of Christmas: Season

.!. NATIVITY SEASON You’ve seen the greeting card — Joseph along with Mary on the back of a donkey making their way to Bethlehem in the wintery snow. But could Jesus have been born during that time of the year, perhaps with snow on the ground? It is possible, as 3 to 4 days a…

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History of Christmas: Advent

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS Here begins our series of articles on the history of Christmas. The Advent Season (Advent means the “coming” of the Christ Child) is marked by the four Sundays before Christmas and is celebrated in the church calendar as one the most festive seasons of the year. As we shall see, many…

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History of Thanksgiving: Friendly Indian?

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING: FRIENDLY INDIAN? We’ve all heard the story of how the Pilgrims, landing in Massachusetts on the Mayflower in 1620, were ill equipped to survive the harsh winters of the New World. We’ve also heard how they met a Native American Indian of the Pawtuxet tribe named Squanto who befriended them, taught them…

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History of Thanksgiving

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING The origin of Thanksgiving Day has been attributed to a harvest feast held by the Plymouth Colony. In 1621, Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony proclaimed a day of “thanksgiving” and prayer to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first harvest in America the year after their arrival on the merchant ship Mayflower. The…

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History of Veterans Day

HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY A professor once commented, “We write things down so we can forget them.” Now, of course this is wrong, except in the limited sense of writing down appointments so we don’t have to worry about forgetting things. But that’s just it, we do forget things. As individuals we forget things that…

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History of The War: TV miniseries

THE WAR: TV MINISERIES In January I wrote about my conversation with Ken Burns, award-winning producer of The Civil War documentary, about his upcoming miniseries about World War II called simply The War. This presentation took place at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He was at that time previewing his 7-part, 14.5-hour series…

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