Christmas Eve through the Centuries
In the 8th century before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah wrote (7:14):
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
"The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.'"
A contemporary of Isaiah was the Prophet Micah, who wrote (5:12):
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
"And when King Herod had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, in Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
'And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.'"
On CHRISTMAS, DECEMBER 24, 1946, President Truman stated:
"Our ... hopes of future years turn to a little town in the hills of Judea where on a winter's night two thousand years ago the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled.
Shepherds keeping the watch by night over their flock heard the glad tidings of great joy from the angels of the Lord singing, 'Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace, good will toward men.'"
"When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons."
President Truman stated on CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1949:
"I have been reading again in our family Bible some of the passages which foretold this night.
It was that grand old seer Isaiah who prophesied in the Old Testament the sublime event which found fulfillment almost 2,000 years ago.
Just as Isaiah foresaw the coming of Christ, so another battler for the Lord, St. Paul, summed up the law and the prophets in a glorification of love which he exalts even above both faith and hope."
President John Quincy Adams stated in Newburyport, July 4, 1837:
Adams continued, asking:
"Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? ...
That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity,
and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before."
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1947, President Truman lit the National Community Christmas Tree, stating:
"Down the ages from the first Christmas through all the years of nineteen centuries, mankind in its weary pilgrimage through a changing world has been ... strengthened by the message of Christmas.
The angels sang for joy at the first Christmas in faraway Bethlehem.
Their song has echoed through the corridors of time and will continue to sustain the heart of man through eternity ...
A humble man and woman had gone up from Galilee out of the City of Nazareth to Bethlehem ...
St. Luke's brief chronicle that Mary 'brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn'."
On CHRISTMAS EVE, 1952, President Truman lit the National Community Christmas Tree, stating:
"As we light this National Christmas tree tonight, here on the White House lawn -- as all of us light our own Christmas trees in our own homes -- we remember another night long ago.
Then a Child was born in a stable. A star hovered over, drawing wise men from afar.
Shepherds, in a field, heard angels singing ... That was the first Christmas and it was God's great gift to us ...
Year after year it brings peace and tranquility to troubled hearts in a troubled world.
And tonight the earth seems hushed, as we turn to the old, old story of how 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
Let us remember always to try to act and live in the spirit of the Prince of Peace.
He bore in His heart no hate and no malice-nothing but love for all mankind. We should try as nearly as we can to follow His example ...
We believe that all men are truly the children of God. As we worship at this Christmastide, let us worship in this spirit ...
Through Jesus Christ the world will yet be a better and a fairer place ...
I wish for all of you a Christmas filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and many years of future happiness with the peace of God reigning upon this earth."
(Get the book There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions www.AmericanMinute.com)
Through the ages, Christmas Eve was recognized at notable occasions.
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1492, Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on the island of Hispanola (Haiti). Columbus left 40 men and named the settlement la Navidad, promising to return the next year.
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1777, Captain James Cook discovered Christmas Island, the largest atoll in the Pacific, where he observed eclipse of the sun.
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium, officially ending the War of 1812.
Word did not reach America in time to prevent a British attack on New Orleans, which Andrew Jackson repelled January 8, 1815.
On CHRISTMAS, 1868 A.D., President Andrew Johnson issued a complete, unconditional pardon to all Confederate soldiers.
In 1869, Mark Twain published Innocents Abroad, telling of his visit to the Church of the Nativity in the Holy Land:
"This spot where the very first 'Merry Christmas!' was uttered in all the world ...
We called at ... the hollow place under a rock where Paul hid during his flight till his pursuers gave him up; and to the mausoleum of the five thousand Christians who were massacred in Damascus in 1861 by the Turks."
President Herbert Hoover wrote in 1932:
"Your CHRISTMAS Service held each year at the foot of a living tree which was alive at the time of the birth of Christ ... should be continued as a further symbol of the unbroken chain of life leading back to this great moment in the spiritual life of mankind."
President Truman stated on CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1948:
"The moving event of the first Christmas was the bringing forth of the first born in the stable in Bethlehem.
There began in humble surroundings the home life of the Holy Family glorified in song ... down through the centuries ...
With one accord we receive with joy ... the message of the first Christmas ... What could be more appropriate than for all of us to dedicate ourselves to the cause of peace on this Holy Night ..."
"The religion which came to the world heralded by the song of the Angels has endured for nineteen centuries ...
It remains today the world's best hope for peace if the world will accept its fundamental teaching that all men are brothers.
'God that made the world and all things therein ... hath made of one blood all nations of man for to dwell on all the face of the earth.'
In the spirit of that message from the Acts of the Apostles, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas."
Truman stated on CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1949:
"The first Christmas had its beginning in the coming of a Little Child ...
Through that Child love ... the love of the Holy Family could be shared by the whole human family ...
We miss the spirit of Christmas if we consider the Incarnation ... a far-off event unrelated to our present problems.
We miss the purpose of Christ's birth if we do not accept it as a living link which joins us together in spirit as children of the ever-living and true God.
In love alone -- the love of God and the love of man -- will be found the solution of all the ills which afflict the world today ... With increasing purpose, emerges the great message of Christianity ...
In the spirit of the Christ Child -- as little children with joy in our hearts and peace in our souls -- let us, as a nation, dedicate ourselves anew to the love of our fellowmen .. . the message of the Child of Bethlehem, the real meaning of Christmas."
President Dwight Eisenhower remarked in 1960:
"Through the ages men have felt the uplift of the spirit of CHRISTMAS. We commemorate the birth of the Christ Child by ... giving expression to our gratitude for the great things that His coming has brought about in the world."
President John F. Kennedy stated December 17, 1962:
"CHRISTMAS ... is the most sacred and hopeful day in our civilization."
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit.
Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders sent a live television broadcast from 250,000 miles away, reading from the Book of Genesis and giving a Christmas Greeting:
"We are now approaching Lunar sunrise.
And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good ...
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters ...
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good."
Frank Borman ended by saying:
"And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you -- all of you on the good Earth."
President Richard Nixon stated January 20, 1969:
"As the Apollo astronauts flew over the moon's gray surface on CHRISTMAS EVE, they spoke to us the beauty of earth -- and in that voice so clear across the lunar distance, we heard them invoke God's blessing on its goodness."
President Jimmy Carter commented in 1977:
"CHRISTMAS has a special meaning for those of us who are Christians, those of us who believe in Christ, those of us who know that almost 2,000 years ago, the Son of Peace was born."
On CHRISTMAS EVE, 2017, President Donald Trump tweeted:
""People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again ... I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!"
After his first year in office, President Donald Trump lit the National Christmas Tree, November 20, 2017, stating:
"It's my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas ...
In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation making Christmas a Federal holiday. And I sort of feel we are doing that again ...
From the earliest days of our nations, Americans have known Christmas as a time for prayer and worship, for gratitude and good will, for peace and renewal. Melania and I are full of joy at the start of this very blessed season ..."
"The Christmas story begins 2000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all, the gift of God's love for all of humanity ...
There's hardly an aspect of our lives today that his life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world.
Each and every year at Christmas time we recognize that the real spirit of Christmas is not what we have, it's about who we are - each one of us is a child of God. That is the true source of joy this time of the year."
On December 5, 2019, President Trump stated:
"In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas Tree.
Later that night, African American community centers held an outdoor worship service on these grounds.
And during that service, the Washington Monument was illuminated with a beautiful cross, a powerful reminder of the meaning of Christmas.
Jesus Christ inspires us to love one another with hearts full of generosity and grace ...
At Christmas, we remember this eternal truth: Every person is a beloved child of God. As one grateful nation, we praise the joy of family, the blessings of freedom, and the miracle of Christmas ..."
"More than 2,000 years ago, a brilliant star shone in the East. Wise men traveled ... a long distance ... And they came and they stood with us under the star, where they found the Holy Family in Bethlehem.
As the Bible tells us, when the Wise Men 'had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and fell down and worshiped him."
On CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1983, in a Radio Address to the Nation, President Ronald Reagan stated:
"Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great teacher and philosopher.
But to other millions of us, Jesus is much more. He is divine, living assurance that God so loved the world He gave us His only begotten Son so that by believing in Him and learning to love each other we could one day be together in paradise."
"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
(Get William J. Federer's book There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions www.AmericanMinute.com)