Chowanoke History Dec 2017

Often it is wondered whether American Indians celebrate Christmas in the same traditional sense as most Americans and the answer is certainly yes. In fact before European colonization, American Indians generally held celebrations during winter solstice which usually occurred on December 21st each year. However, because American Indians had never heard of Jesus Christ until missionaries came to them, they did not know to celebrate the birth of Christ prior to that time. It is interesting though that many American Indians found that the story of Christmas and Christ's birth fulfilled tribal prophecies. They found the message of Jesus Christ to be consistent with those prophecies and truth that had been handed down to them by their ancestors. 

While Christmas did not become a national holiday in the United States until the 1860’s, the Huron Indians were documented as celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in the 1640’s.  Father Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary priest wrote the first American Indian Christmas carol in 1640 for the Huron Indians as they honored the Savior’s manger at Bethlehem. There the Hurons had built a small chapel of fir trees and bark to symbolize the stable where Jesus was born and where the fox, buffalo, and bear were the animals present. The Huron Christmas Carol is still well known and loved today.

A quote written by two Oglala Sioux Indians speaks the sentiments of American Indians all across America today concerning Christmas.  “To the Indian People, Christmas is every day and they don't believe in taking without asking… Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher, and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas or not. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present every day in Indian Country."  (Floyd Hand and Sandie Lee Bohlig)

Chowanoke History Dec 2017 Chowanoke History Dec 2017 Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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