This year, Near Neighbours has been running a ‘Know Your Neighbours’ series that offers information about major faith festivals happening throughout the year. However, it seemed a bit silly to do one for Christmas, as the celebrations for this festival are so well known, already!
So, instead, what we have for you are nine things you might not know about the Christmas story!
1. Although the Nativity story is one of the most famous stories in the Bible, it is only in two of the four Gospels (the stories of Jesus’ life): the Gospel’s according to Matthew and Luke.
2. Despite what the famous “We three kings of Orient are” carol might suggest, the Bible simply refers to them as “wise men from the East” and says nothing about there being three of them, nor about them being kings.
3. These wise men brought with them three gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. But, what you might not realise is that, although these presents were to celebrate a birth, Myrrh was in fact used at funerals!
4. Jesus actually started life as a refugee. After the visit of the wise men, the story goes that the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that he had to flee to Egypt because the King was going to search for the baby Jesus to kill him.
5. One of the most famous parts of the Christmas story is the visit of the shepherds to see the baby Jesus. But what many people don’t realise is that they were invited by a host of angels despite being considered amongst the least important people in society at the time.
6. The famous story goes that Jesus was born in a stable, but the way that houses of the time were built meant that the animals were simply kept in another part of the house. So, the chances are that Jesus was not born in a shed a long way from the houses but was in fact in someone’s home with the animals.
7. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Joseph was going to leave Mary when he found out she was pregnant but changed his mind when he was visited by an angel!
8. Depictions of Mary in these scenes often show her to be an adult woman but the reality is that she was probably closer to 12 years old!
9. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25th December, but the reality is that we don’t really have much idea what day Jesus was born.
Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones
Date: 18 December 2015
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