Paul Wheelhouse

December 23, 2023

Dear Christian friends and other interested readers, there is indeed a richness of Christmas in all its sounds, sights, and gifting delights that it is fitting to title this brief article “Treasures… of Christmas.” For sure, this “collection” of Christmas music, movies, gift-giving traditions, and other Christmas cultural expressions has no doubt made the Christmas season the favorite of millions of people who celebrate Christmas. I wish to highlight some major resources to bless you and enrich your Christmastide 2023-2024. The Twelve days of Christmas in the West, after all, goes from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6.

The first major resource I want to bring to your attention is Gospel Films Archive Christmas collection at: https://www.gospelfilmsarchive.com/xmas.html. I was on the phone just the other day with Gospel Films’ archivist Mr. Campbell who is an expert on films including Christian. He showed me the new website that will be launched Feb. 2024 and it is awesome, live viewing/streaming of hundreds of Christian films! He has partnered with virtually every Christian film producer and distributor to allow him to put on the new site, including RedeemTV’s productions. I am about as excited about this new site coming as Mr. Campbell himself who is creating this site and putting them on this website platform. I cannot disclose the site’s name till it is launched. In the meantime, peruse the Christmas collection above. Some are DVD’s that would have to be ordered.

Another resource is nearly famous or should be because of his incredible work on the Christian faith and the American story and whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person earlier in 2023 in Florida. He is William (Bill) Federer. I have been getting his AmericanMinute daily emails for some months now. While I personally do not like receiving daily emails from any organization, I have been saving so many of his emails because he takes so much history and condenses it and summarizes and presents it in such a clear way everyone can learn and understand. During this week, each day’s message was related to Christmas, one on carols, another on Christmas traditions. Related resources are included in these emails. One of the resources listed the other day is a book The True Story of St. Nicholas. Every Christian from their youth and everyone who celebrates Christmas should know the true story of St. Nicholas, the real Santa Claus. William Federer’s publications website is https://americanminute.com/. I encourage you to check out his other resources on America.

For all those radio listeners out there, I probably don’t have to remind you to keep you radio tuned in during the month of December to hear all the wonderful Christmas music playing this month every year. But perhaps you are not aware of the several Christian radio stations that do. Here is a short list:

Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN) plays Christmas music from Dec. 1 – just after Christmas Day.

JoyFM (based in Sarasota/Tampa, FL) plays Christmas music all through December (starting after Thanksgiving).

It appears that K Love radio (based in the central US) plays Christmas music on the weekends in December.

Z-88 radio (based in Orlando) plays Christmas music all through December (starting after Thanksgiving).

In addition to recorded Christmas music played on the radio, every year it has been a tradition to give a special Christmas music concert by several performers, the major ones which are broadcast on television. I will not begin to highlight what happens all around our country. Here, I want to highlight two, the first is the PBS television aired production of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This year’s production was themed “Season of Light,” such a fitting theme. The pageantry and performance was spectacular. And the Winton story of saving many children from the Holocaust was tear-jerking. One more highlight is the St. Olaf College annual Christmas concert that has touched millions of heart through the years. They are a phenomenal Christian college choir that has been around for over 100 years.

After highlighting Christmas movies and films and music above, let us round out the Christmas cultural highlights of 2023 with an historical-geographical perspective going back to the “Old Country” of Europe. European Christians were celebrating Christmas in the Middle Ages centuries before the United States was born. And the origin of Christmas goes back to emperor Constantine around 325 A.D. in eastern Europe declaring December 25 the day to celebrate the Nativity of the Christ Child. And St. Nicolas was a bishop in Anatolia, now Turkey in the 5th cent. Many specific Christmas traditions developed as the festival spread throughout the many European nations (see my upcoming post on Religious Traditions which uses Christmas as an example). Fittingly, I highlight Rick Steve’s European Christmas on DVD as the resource in this category. This production is a good example of the many different Christian traditions in Europe, from England to Norway, France and Germany, Switzerland and Italy. I have added this to my collection and the ACA this season. Rick Steve’s European Christmas portrays in simple beauty the levels of “tradition,” how we use the term. Simply put, from the general, that is, community traditions, to the local, neighborhood and congregational traditions, down to the individual family units. No one but Rick Steve’s could portray all these levels of tradition so simply and beautifully.

God bless you with merriment of heart yet not forgetting the poor and those without gifts and those in hunger especially in Gaza, Afghanistan, and the Sudan.