Christmas is a birthday. Not just any birthday; Christmas is a King’s birthday.
As this was stirring in my soul, I decided to research how nations celebrate their sovereign’s birthday. So, let’s look at how countries with a King, or Queen, celebrate their birthdays.
King’s Day in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, Koningsdag, or King’s Day, is celebrated on King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, April 27. King’s Day is a national holiday. Stores close down. People celebrate with parties, parades, concerts, and all kinds of festivities. The king and his family join the people in their celebrating.
The people take to the streets, along with the royal family, and paint the town orange! Since the king is a member of the House of Orange, everyone wears orange and waves orange flags. Some people even wear orange wigs. Amsterdam’s famous canals are filled with orange as festively decorated boats fill the waterways.
Vendors sell yummy streets and many folks set up a place to sell or trade unwanted items—it’s like a big flea market. As the music plays, people not express love and appreciation to their king, they delight in being Dutch.
Queen’s Birthday in the UK
In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s Official Birthday is celebrated the second Saturday in June. Until 1936, it was celebrated on the reigning king or queen’s official birthday, but when George V died, it was decided to make the official celebration the second Saturday in June.
That’s good news for the UK because Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is April 21, but the weather is not-so-nice that time of year in England.
Her majesty’s birthday is celebrated with a parade, gun salutes, and a host of festivities. Queen Elizabeth walks around outside of the palace greeting well-wishes. She and her entire family also appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Air Force flies overhead for the annual airshow.
Royal Birthday Celebrations
In the Netherlands and England, the people want their monarch to know they are loved, admired, appreciated, and celebrated. It’s a lovely time to be had by all.
It is also a time to celebrate their heritage, the delight of being Dutch or English.
The birthday celebration is not a private affair, but a time that all come together to honor the head of their nation. Everyone joins in!
Even more special is that the sovereign and royal family mingle with the people in the streets. They are right in the middle of the celebration—they are not far off, but with their people.
With that in mind, let’s celebrate Christmas as a birthday! Here are some ways to keep the birthday person JESUS in mind as we plan celebrations that He enjoys and show him adoration and honor.
Plan the Celebration
God the Father carefully planned the birth of His Son. He lined up empires and languages. He chose the perfect time for His Son to be born and left little clues (prophecies) about His birth for 4,000 years. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals Jesus as the coming Savior and King.
Our Heavenly Father planned the birth party, including who would sing and who would be guests.
He had the angel choirs sing and had both domestic and foreign visitors. The shepherds were local, but the wise men traveled a long distance to see the baby.
If God went to so much trouble preparing for His initial birth, then shouldn’t we do the same in preparing for His annual birthday celebration?
After all, this annual celebration is more about Him, than even our precious children and spouse. Christmas is His birthday celebration.
When we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, do we remember the Passover meal or the memorial stones near the Jordan River? The Lords often uses symbolism and memorials to help us remember special events. We can plan traditions that remind us of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. Family and church traditions that represent or teach Jesus and His Salvation are a great way to give the Birthday King what He wants. After all, He was born to save us all.
What will draw our hearts and our family’s hearts closer to Jesus this holiday season? Choose the best over the good and mediocre. Schedule in time for rest and reflection.
Just as the king in the Netherlands, or queen in the UK, mingles with the people during the birthday celebration, Jesus wants us to draw close to Him.
He calls us to abide in Him, to seek Him, to draw close to Him. Make time to meditate on Scripture passages, to pray, to worship alone and with others. Let Jesus not only be the focal point, but present with you.
So, how do we plan a birthday celebration fit for our King?
Transferring Our Birthday Celebrations to HIS
After looking at birthday celebrations for royalty, I decided to look at our own birthday celebrations and see if anything could transfer.
One thing we love to do on birthdays is play the Encouragement Game.
Everyone goes around and shares things they appreciate about the birthday person. It is often a tearful time as the birthday person is blessed and others realize how much he or she means to them.
We can do that with Jesus at Christmas. Think of all the things we appreciate about Jesus, starting with His help at Creation and ending with His Glorious Return.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).
For Jesus, it is deeper. Instead of the encouragement game, we add worship to our Christmas birthday celebration. Singing Christmas carols together is so precious to us, and we never stop at the first verse. The rest of the songs are so packed with awesome truths about our God!
Our birthday celebrations consist of giving gifts.
We think of things that we know Jesus wants from us, things that will express our adoration and devotion to Him. Here are some things on our list of gifts to the Lord:
- Worship from grateful sincere hearts
- Marriages that are faithful and committed
- Families that love one another
- Serving the poor, needy, those in jail as if we were serving Him
- Celebrations (in Nehemiah, He commands the Israelites to celebrate with feasting and sweet drinks)
- Studying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on His Word
- Enjoyment for all He has given us
- Generosity with a cheerful heart
To give gifts to Jesus at Christmas, we include Christmas devotions (Bible study, prayer, worship), acts of service (Shoebox, baby items to Crisis Pregnancy Center, special gift to our Compassion girl), and times of family togetherness.
Our birthday celebrations include parties.
When the kids were younger, we had a birthday party for Jesus with a birthday cake, games, and a pinata. On Christmas morning, we always put candles in our homemade cinnamon rolls and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
We turn decorating the tree into a family party. We go caroling together, drive around to see lights, and participate in many special church events with other believers. All of these things are mini-birthday parties.
Seek and Save the Lost
One of the best ways we can show love to our Birthday King is to participate in the things on His heart. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, giving His life as a ransom for many. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by participating in His mission!
Christ is concerned about the lost and broken. At Christmas, we have the real message of hope. It’s not what Santa can bring you, but what Jesus has accomplished for you through His cross and resurrection!
We can think of creative ways to tell people about Jesus. We can go Christmas caroling and invite neighbors to church. Why not create little tracts that share the Gospel message?
Sharing the Gospel of Hope can happen on Facebook, in person, or through emails. However, you do it, share the Gospel with those who need to hear it.
If you can grasp these principles and ideas as a family, it will change your Christmas celebrations forever to be more festive and joyous than you could ever imagine. After all, Christmas is not just a birthday, it is the birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Love, love, love to each of you and Merry Christmas.