Christmas is our holiday.
Unitarians made this season what it is.
What does Christmas mean?
Christmas means Old Ebenezeer Scrooge’s heart opens up to compassion and joy.
That story about Scrooge has become central to our modern conception of what Christmas is about.
That’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Charles Dickens was a Unitarian.
Christmas means we put a tree indoors, and we decorate it.
It was a practice in Germany, brought to the United States in the early 1800s by Charles Follen.
Charles Follen was a Unitarian.
Christmas means dashing through the snow, one-horse open sleighs.
It means bells that jingle, and it means laughing, all the way.
That’s the song “Jingle Bells,” by James Pierpont.
James Pierpont was a Unitarian.
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a Unitarian.
"Watchman Tell Us of the Night," is by John Bowring, a Unitarian.
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is by Noel Regney, a Unitarian.
Christmas means the message of Peace on Earth, to all goodwill.
In 1849, a Unitarian minister, Edmund Hamilton Sears, wrote the words to "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."
With the war in Europe and the US war with Mexico weighing on his mind, Rev. Sears wrote a carol that urges us to hear the angels sing of peace on earth, to all goodwill.
Sears was at the vanguard of a movement to understand peace on earth in social, community terms – instead of merely a personal, private peace.
His lyrics raised objections from a number of Christian conservatives of the time.
Many people said, contemptuously, that Sears’ hymn was just the sort of thing you would expect of a Unitarian.
Yes, it is.
If Christmas season today is a time when our hopes turn to ending war and truly bringing peace on earth, it is because a Unitarian minister wrote a song inviting us to imagine the day "when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world give back the song which now the angels sing."
This is our holiday.
From the Scrooge story, to the Christmas tree, to the message of peace on earth, Unitarians made Christmas what it is today.