How To Teach Children the True Meaning of Christmas

The True Meaning of Christmas

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I want to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus, but everywhere we look, there’s Santa Claus on tv, on display in the stores, in the Christmas songs, etc. Besides, how can I teach about the true meaning of Christmas when there’s so much political division in our country right now?
Not Merry Yet

Dear Not Merry Yet,

I agree that the hype about Santa can easily overshadow the true meaning of Christmas. 🎅 However, your children are blessed to have you as a parent because you’re interested in teaching them the true meaning of Christmas. Here are various ways to help children of all ages learn in a way that’s fun for them.


Reading about the True Meaning of Christmas

“A Visit from Saint Nicholas” was written by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) a long time ago, yet it’s still popular today and has inspired the belief of Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Eve. However, children can benefit from learning the actual history of Saint Nicholas because he followed God and gave generously to the poor. Thus, another option is “The Legend of Saint Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving” by Dandi Daley Mackall.

Learning about the true meaning of Christmas doesn’t have to involve avoiding fictional characters altogether. “If I Had a Mermaid Friend” by Geoffrey and Ramya Black is an imaginative book with beautiful illustrations, including mermaids singing at Christmastime. And “God gave us Christmas” by Lisa Tawn Bergren features a mother polar bear, explaining God’s love through the gift of Jesus to her adorable baby bear.

For children’s books that describe details of Jesus’ birth, I recommend “Jesus Came for Me” by Jared Kennedy and a Little Golden Book Classic, “The Christmas Story,” by Jane Werner Watson. For very small children, “This Is the Stable” by Cynthia Cotten is especially appealing.

Older children can be invited to read the Bible aloud with you. Two great choices are Luke 2:1-16, which is the story of Jesus’ birth, and Matthew 2:1-14, which is the story of the Three Wise Men honoring Jesus.


The “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Christmas special of 1964 is still televised today and prevalent in merchandise. But there’s also the lesser-known stop motion animation Christmas special, “The Little Drummer Boy” of 1968. Although there’s no drummer boy documented in the Bible, this video still highlights Jesus’ birth and beautifully ends with Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

VeggieTales also has a version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” which is entertaining and educational. And as mentioned, Saint Nicholas is a positive role model; therefore, the VeggieTales video, “Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving,” is worthwhile.

I highly recommend “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which is a classic from 1965. The character Linus recites part of the gospel of Luke and teaches about the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of modern commercialism. And for teens, an option is “The Nativity Story” from 2006, rated PG, which portrays the lives of Mary and Joseph and the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth.

Whichever video you choose, watching it with your children will show them that the birth of Jesus is important to you. Furthermore, it will give you the opportunity to discuss it with them.


Children love singing catchy tunes, such as “Jingle Bells” by James Pierpont and “Frosty the Snowman” by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. Although they may hear these songs often in our culture, be sure to teach them Christmas carols about the true meaning of Christmas. The following are suggestions:
* “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts
* “O Come, All Ye Faithful” by John Francis Wade and John Reading
* “The First Noel” by John Stainer
* “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Charles Wesley
* “Silent Night” by Franz Xavier Gruber and Joseph Mohr
* “What Child Is This?” by William C. Dix
* “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” verses by John W. Work, Jr.
* “Angels We Have Heard on High” by James Chadwick
* “Away in a Manger” by James R. Murray and John T. McFarland

Christmas Traditions

In addition to decking the halls with boughs of holly, tell your children about the true meaning of Christmas as you display a nativity scene. Instead of placing the figurine of baby Jesus in the scene, wrap it as a gift to be opened last on Christmas morning as the greatest gift of all.

Unwrap baby Jesus last on Christmas morning as the greatest gift of all.

Advent wreaths are another meaningful decoration because each candle represents hope, faith, joy, peace, and love, according to the four weeks of Advent and Christmas Day. Light each candle (or use battery operated candles to prevent a fire) with your children and lead them in a moment of reflection.

Bringing your children to a church service will be helpful in teaching them about the love of God manifested by sending His Son Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. And some churches offer special services for children and teens to accommodate their developmental level.

While your children enjoy a little candy cane or decorate a Christmas tree with it, discuss the symbolism of Jesus. Check out these free printable poems by for a guide.

Making Christmas Cards

Lastly, encourage your children to make and give Christmas cards to loved ones by drawing and/or using artwork from store-bought cards or wrapping paper. This will emphasize the theme of giving since God gave His only begotten Son for us.

Regarding your question about sharing the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of division and strife, please listen to this song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” by Harry Belafonte for comfort and a reminder of God’s sovereignty.

God is in control no matter what. For more details about focusing on God, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.” You might also be interested in the post, “Finding Hope in Difficult Times.” Most of all, open your own heart to receive the gift of God’s unconditional love this Christmas, which can lift your spirits more than anything. 🎁

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. TC

    I can so relate to this subscriber. It is hard when those images/concepts are everywhere and so many celebrating Christmas who don’t even believe in God. I like the advent wreath idea. : ) Beautiful song by Harry Belafonte, rarely get to hear him sing ballads.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for your comment. I used an Advent wreath for years and it effectively helped pause the Christmas rush with my family to reflect on God by lighting a candle, reading a Bible passage aloud, and singing a song together.

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