A tradition we have during the Christmas season is to go back to a simpler time for an evening in the Holy Land. The night centers on the Savior. Where was He born? What did He wear and eat? How did He act? What did He teach?
Here are some ideas of how the evening could transpire…use some of these ideas and come up with others of your own to create a tradition that your family will enjoy:
Start your evening with a video to set the stage. (Link to Glad Tidings of Great Joy: The Birth of Jesus Christ)
Play hymns of Christmas as background music.
Explain that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed. Israel was under Roman rule at the time of Christ’s birth. Find some toy gold coins to pay the taxes.
Eat on the floor or at a low table. The dinner could include:
- raisins, figs, dates, olives
- grape juice, goat milk (or just regular milk)
- pita bread, tortillas, naan (recipe Note: I use 1/2 cup less flour than the recipe says. We love this bread. I make it to eat with soup quite often.), unleavened bread (recipe Note: I haven’t tried this recipe yet…but I am going to make it for our supper in a few days)
- honey, garlic, romaine lettuce = bitter herb
- goat cheese or string cheese
- fish, lamb, poultry
We like to put butter and honey on a few pieces of naan and butter and garlic salt on a few others. Set the food out in dishes or baskets that resemble items from the time period. Light candles and dim the lights. Have a basin to wash hands. Eat with your hands.
After passing the food around and getting the plates ready, discuss the life of Jesus Christ.
Possible concepts to discuss over supper:
President Thomas S. Monson said,”Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He brought to fulfillment the prophecies of the ages. Shepherds came with haste to adore Him. Wise men from the East came bearing for Him precious gifts; the meridian of time had dawned.With the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment, a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the promised Messiah—even Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (The Way of the Master, 1996) Why do His birth, life, death, and resurrection matter?
- One of the things I love to hear my husband mention is how the traditional head covering creates a “sacred place” for each individual. It is a timely reminder to take time to find a quiet place of our own to ponder about our Savior and let Him into our sacred space. Setting the world aside is important. How do you make time for the Savior?
- The star marked the birth of the Savior and He came in His appointed time. He did all that the Lord required of Him. Each of us has our own mission here on earth. Elder Neal A. Maxwell has taught, “The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well.” (That My Family Should Partake, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, p. 86.) Each of us have been placed on the earth at this time by the Lord. What is your mission here? Who can you help? The Savior taught in 3rd Nephi, “..hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 18:24) We can “hold up” the Savior as a light to all.
- What gift would you like to give the Savior this Christmas? A gift of service or a gift of more devotion in learning of Him are a couple ideas.
After supper act out the nativity, if you have little children, and sing or listen to “Silent Night” to end the evening.
Scriptures to consider for help with narrating the nativity:
This quote by David O. McKay is true: “No person can study His divine personality, can accept His teachings, or follow His example, without becoming conscious of an uplifting refining influence within himself.” (p.141 I Know that My Redeemer Lives) I have found that as I study, accept, and follow my Savior I have peace. It is a peace that can’t be found in the world. I know He lives. I will be forever grateful for His life and for the atonement. Have a Merry Christmas.