See also: 3 Nephi 1:4-14; Luke 2:6-7; JST, Luke 2:7
I want to emphasize that I have no quarrel with that well-fed gentleman with the red suit and the white whiskers. He was very generous to me when I was a boy, and we are looking forward with great anticipation to his visit at our home next Monday night. The tree is there, the holly wreath, the stockings hung along the fireplace mantle – it is a very long mantle. I know of few things on this earth quite so celestial as the face of a little youngster, happy, hopeful, and believing, with Christmas almost here. All of those things with reference to Christmas are appropriate and good and all of them are for children – except, I suppose, the mistletoe.
If you would understand what you get in exchange for giving up the childish illusion concerning Christmas, you could look forward to the greatest of all discoveries. If you could just know that at your age you can find and can have that ‘little-kid’ feeling again about Christmas. If you understand Christmas at all, you will find that in exchange for Christmas past comes the most supernal of all gifts. If you want to know a good beginning point, I suggest you start in the second chapter of Luke. . . . (reads Luke 2:1-19).
The Christmas story in the second chapter of Luke takes, I suppose, a minute and a half to read. It might take a minute more to ponder on it. Yet how infrequently, how remarkably infrequently does that find its way into the family festivities at Christmas time.
The Christmas story does not end there. It is only the beginning. If we can accept as adults a new childhood status with reference to our God, then we will begin to humble ourselves and begin to believe, and so begin to see. In exchange for the fanciful poetry of The Night Before Christmas comes the miracle that grows in every season.
The whole account – from Bethlehem to Calvary – is the Christmas story, and it takes simple, childlike, almost naive faith to know it. . . .
Of all times of the year, Latter-day Saints at Christmas time ought to be the most joyful, ought to have greater cause for festivity than anyone, ought to enjoy the Christmas tree and the holly wreath, and the stockings and the mistletoe, and all that goes with Christmas more than any else in the world because they KNOW what Christmas really is. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Keeping Christmas,” BYU Devotional, December 19, 1962
If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees – alone or with loved ones – give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that his Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve him and keep his commandments. He will take you by the hand and his promises will be kept. — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Deeper Meaning of Christmas,” BYU Devotional, December 1972, p. 69
Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating – those delightfully generous and important expressions of our love at Christmas – should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.
As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I do not feel – or mean this to sound – like a modern-day Scrooge. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were humbly given and appreciatively received, and so they should be, every year and always. As my wife and children can testify, no one gets more giddy about the giving and receiving of presents than I do.
But for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion – Babe of Bethlehem – will we know why “tis the season to be jolly” and why the giving of gifts is so appropriate. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Maybe Christmas Doesn’t Come from a Store,” address given to the Religious Instruction faculty at BYU, December 12, 1976; see Ensign, December 1977, p. 64
The birth of Christ our Lord was more than an incident, it was an epoch in the history of the world to which prophets had looked forward, of which poets had sung, and in which angels joined their voices with mortals in praise to God. It was the day decreed and foreordained by our Father who is in heaven when he would manifest himself to his children, who are here upon earth, in the person of his Only Begotten Son.
Whether or not the 25th day of December is the proper date of the birth of Christ, our Lord, matters little. We join with other Christian people in celebrating it as such and if we observe it in the true spirit of the Master, renewing the covenant which we have made that we are willing to take upon us his name, and keep the commandments which he has given, our offering will be accepted.
He came that man might see and know God as he is, for he bore witness that whoever had seen him had seen the Father, for he was the express image of his person.
He came to teach us the character of God, and by example and precept pointed out the path which, if we walk in it, will lead us back into his presence. He came to break the bands of death with which man was bound, and made possible the resurrection by which the grave is robbed of its victory and death of its sting. — Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, Charles W. Nibley, First Presidency Christmas pastoral epistle, December 19, 1925; see Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 5:247-248 or Conference Report, April 1926, p. 13
“The stars in the heavens looked down where he lay.” The onlooking universe was apparently created by him under the Father’s direction, involving “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). Thus the meek Christ child was cradled not only in a manger but was also cradled in the midst of the majesty of his own creations! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “In Him All Things Hold Together,” Speeches, March 31, 1991, p. 108
This is Christmas, when we sing and speak of the great gift of God our Eternal Father who gave His Son to become the Redeemer of all mankind. It is a time when we meditate reverently upon the matchless gift of that Son, who gave His life to save the world. It is a time, too, when we reflect on how we might best honor Him. . . .
Of all times, it is Christmas when we must surely realize that there can be no true worship of Him who is the Christ without giving of ourselves.
At this season let us, each one, reach out a little more generously in the spirit of the Christ. It is not enough to give toys and baubles. It is not enough to give alms to those in need. That is important, yes. But it is also important that we give of ourselves with our alms.
May the real meaning of Christmas distill into our hearts, that we may realize that our lives, given us by God our Father, are really not our own, but are to be used in the service of others.
President Spencer W. Kimball, who was such a great example of this principle, once said to me, “I feel that my life is like my shoes – to be worn out in service to others.”
God bless each of you at this Christmas season, that it may be a time of joy, a time of gladness, but more importantly, a season of consecration. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Gift of Self,” Tambuli, December 1986, p. 2
Christmas has been given a fixed date, but this has been done arbitrarily. Before the fifth century it appears that it was kept on the 6th of January. Some have held the opinion that Jesus was born in October, and others that He was born in the spring. The account given in the Gospels affords no clue to the exact date, but it does give particulars which show that this event is not likely to have taken place in mid-winter. We are told by Luke that there were “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” It is not probable that they would have done this at a time of the year when the rainy season was at its height. I had my first view of the Holy Land from the deck of a steamer as I approached Joppa in the month of February, 1898l. North and south, as far as my vision extended, I saw the hills of Judea covered with snow. When I saw them again, six weeks later, they were clad with the finest verdure and afforded ideal pastures for the flocks. From my own observation I consider that the month of April complies better with the conditions mentioned by the evangelist, as surrounding the Savior’s birth, than any other time of the year. That Christmas is not celebrated on the exact date of the Lord’s nativity should not lessen our regard for this festival. We know that Jesus came and dwelt among men, and we know how infinitely his advent affects our lives, both here and hereafter, and hence it befits us to devote at least one day to meditate upon and contemplate this grand event. — President Joseph F. Smith, “Reminiscences by the First Presidency,” Dec. 21, 1901; President Joseph F. Smith, President John R. Winder, President Anthon H. Lund; Deseret News, December 21, 1901, p. 57
Long ago when a child lay in a manger, a special star appeared. It didn’t just show up that evening. It had to have been placed in its orbit centuries before in a trajectory that would make it appear at that special moment of time to announce the birth of a special child.
Just as there is divine design in the universe, so each of us has been placed in our own orbits in this life to love, to serve, to help light the world. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell at Christmas lighting ceremony for the Washington D.C. Temple and Visitors Center, December 4, 2002; Church News, December 14, 2002, p. 6
President Faust said of all the Savior’s profound teachings, he would like to focus on one: “It is to do for others that which they cannot do for themselves.”
He then recounted a story by an unknown author, which represents the spirit of Christmas.
In September of 1960, a young mother found herself alone with six hungry children and just 75 cents in her pocket. After searching her small Indiana town, she found a job working nights at a truck stop called the Big Wheel.
The mother found a teenager to watch her children and began work. The tires on her 1952 car were so worn that she would fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning on the way home.
“One bleak fall morning as she dragged herself to the car to go home, she found four tires on the back seat. Four new tires. There was no note – just those beautiful brand new tires.”
As Christmas approached, the mother knew there would be no money to buy toys for her children. She began painting and repairing old toys so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.
“On Christmas Eve the usual truckers, Les, Frank and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe were all sitting around at the Big Wheel. They talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
“When it came time for this young mother to go home on Christmas morning, she hurried to her car hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up before she managed to get home and get the presents from the basement. It was not yet light outside, and there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car. Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell just what.”
“When she reached the car she was amazed. The old car was filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes. There were blue jeans, shirts, candy, nuts and bananas. There were bags of groceries, an enormous ham, canned vegetables, cookies and flour. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.”
“As that young mother drove back through empty streets on that most amazing Christmas Day, she sobbed with gratitude. She would never forget the joy on the faces of those little ones that precious Christmas morning. Surely there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And many of them hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.”
President Faust said the kindness of the unknown benefactors in this story shows a very real Christmas spirit.
“In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior taught, ‘When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.’ In the same sermon He teaches us that those who do acts of service to gain recognition already have received their reward, whereas those who act anonymously will be rewarded in heaven.” — President James A. Faust, First Presidency Christmas Devotional, “Savior’s Teachings,” Church News, December 9, 2006, pp. 4-5
The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master. I continue with what the writer defines as the real spirit of Christmas:
“It is a desire to sacrifice for others, to render service and to possess a feeling of universal brotherhood. It consists of a willingness to forget what you have done for others, and to remember what others have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and think only of your duties in the middle distance, and your chance to do good and aid your fellow-men in the foreground – to see that your fellow-men are just as good as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts – to close your book of grievances against the universe, and look about you for a place to sow a few seeds of happiness, and go your way unobserved. (Clarence Baird, “The Spirit of Christmas”) — President Howard W. Hunter, Improvement Era, 23:154, December 1919
Said Jesus: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12 )
May I remind us at this Christmas season that if only each of us would reflect occasionally on that Christ-given mandate and make an effort to observe it, this would be a different world. There would be greater happiness in our homes; there would be kinder feelings among our associates; there would be much less of litigation and a greater effort to compose differences. There would be a new measure of love and appreciation and respect.
There would be more generous hearts, more thoughtful consideration and concern, and a greater desire to spread the gospel of peace and to advance the work of salvation among the children of men. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘Do Ye Even So to Them'” Ensign, December 1991, p. 2
As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others. — President Thomas S. Monson, “In Search of the Christmas Spirit,” Ensign, December 1987
This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is preface. The three-year ministry of the Master is prologue. The magnificent substance of the story is His sacrifice, the totally selfless act of dying in pain on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all of us.
There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection. — President Gordon B. Hinckley
If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees – alone or with loved ones – give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments. He will take you by the hand and His promises will be kept. — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Real Christmas,” Ensign, December 2005, p. 25
The spirit of giving gifts has been present in the mind of each Christian as he or she commemorates the Christmas season. Our Heavenly Father gave to us His Son, Jesus Christ. That precious Son gave to us His life, the Atonement, and victory over the grave.
What will you and I give for Christmas this year? Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps. It was said of Him that He “went about doing good.” As we do likewise, the Christmas spirit will be ours. — President Thomas S. Monson, “What is Christmas?” Ensign, December 1998, p. 5
The desire and the effort to give to the Lord, born of the surrender of man to the plan of salvation, stamp every Christmas gift with genuine value. They who identify themselves with the plan, who do not resist it, who earnestly seek to tread the path of the plan, are true givers to the Lord, and their gifts to men come with the flavor of heaven. The Lord and his plan must have place in our Christmas celebration. — Elder John A. Widtsoe, “The Gifts of Christmas,” Ensign, December 1972, p. 4
And so at this Christmas season, we sing His praises and speak our words of faith and gratitude and love. It is His influence in our lives that stirs within us more kindness, more respect, more love, more concern. It is because of Him and His teachings that we reach out to those in trouble, distress, and need wherever they may be.
What a glorious season is this time of Christmas. Hearts are softened. Voices are raised in worship. Kindness and mercy are re-enthroned as elements in our lives. There is an accelerated reaching out to those in distress. There is an aura of peace that comes into our homes. There is a measure of love that is not felt to the same extent at any other time of the year. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, New Era, December 2007
Part of the purpose for telling the story of Christmas is to remind us that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Indeed, however delightful we feel about it, even as children, each year it “means a little bit more.” And no matter how many times we read the biblical account of that evening in Bethlehem, we always come away with a thought – or two – we haven’t had before. . . .
I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that sacred, unadorned child of our devotion – the Babe of Bethlehem – will we know why . . . the giving of gifts is so appropriate. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Without Ribbons and Bows,” New Era, December 1994, p. 4
Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. To us He has said, “Come, follow me.”
As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others. — President Thomas S. Monson, “In Search of the Christmas Spirit,” Ensign, December 1987, p. 3
There is a magic in Christmas. Hearts are opened to a new measure of kindness. Love speaks with increased power. Tensions are eased. . . .
Of all things of heaven and earth of which we bear testimony, none is so important as our witness that Jesus, the Christmas child, condescended to come to earth from the realms of His Eternal Father, here to work among men as healer and teacher, our Great Exemplar. And further, and most important, He suffered on Calvary’s cross as an atoning sacrifice for all mankind.
At this time of Christmas, this season when gifts are given, let us not forget that God gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, that each of us might have the gift of eternal life. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Son of God,” Ensign, December 1992, p. 2
So who needs Christmas? We do! All of us! Because Christmas can bring us closer to the Savior, and he is the only source of lasting joy. . . .
We need Christmas because it helps us to be better people, not only in December but in January, June, and November.
Because we need Christmas we had better understand what it is and what it isn’t. Gifts, holly, mistletoe, and red-nosed reindeer are fun as traditions, but they are not what Christmas is really all about. Christmas pertains to that glorious moment when the Son of our Father joined his divinity to our imperfect humanity” — Hugh W. Pinnock, “Who Needs Christmas?” New Era, December 1987, p. 4
Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season. We can keep Him in our thoughts and in our lives as we go about the work He would have us perform here on earth. At this time, particularly, let us follow His example as we love and serve our fellowman. — “Christmas Is Love,” First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2012
We have just enjoyed another season of rejoicing and commemorating the birth of the Savior and, for most of us, the opportunity of renewing family ties. Almost all agree that December is a happy month, when we sing of “Peace on earth and good will toward men,’”but too many people leave this festive season and move into January with feelings of depression or discouragement. To some, January is foreboding: the beginning of the winter doldrums. . . .
I think January ought to be a happy month of the year. Of all people on the face of the earth, Latter-day Saints, with the perspective given them by the gospel, ought to be happy and optimistic. . . . January always brings a renewed hope for personal and family progress in the coming year. It is the time of the year when people tend to set goals and make commitments – resolutions, if you will, New Year’s resolutions. — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Dauntless Spirit of Resolution, BYU Devotional, January 5, 1992