The foundation of science fiction is a journey to the stars. I remember as a kid searching for book titles with “star”, “planet”, “moon” or “alien” on the cover or the book spine.
One of Arthur C. Clarke’s most famous short stories is titled simply, “The Star” (Infinity SF, 1955).
What’s the connection between stars and Christmas lights? Most sources point to the practice of lighting Christmas tree candles or putting candles in the windows of homes as a measure of “pushing back the night” long, dark winter nights and having lifted various pagan religious practices in the process. Sites that are brutally honest say that Christians stole lighting, trees, yule logs and holly for the nefarious reason of subjugating all other traditions and belief systems to their own.
Others less brutal note that the reason for hanging lights at Christmas is at best unclear and at worst, disappeared like a ghost into Christmases past.
So I’m going to throw my own theory out there.
We do Christmas lights to add more stars to the universe we live in so that one particular star on one particular night might stand out even more than it already does. Adding stars to the universe – even imaginary ones on green coated electrical wire – seems somewhat silly when you consider that cosmologists number the stars in the observable universe at some thirty sextillion (30 followed by twenty-one zeroes). Others opine mathematically that the universe is infinite so that there are an infinite number of stars.
Cool! Ain’t God great?
OK, so rather than theorize why “we” put up Christmas lights, I’ll tell you that I like to put up Christmas lights in an infinite universe to mimic stars.
On that first Christmas night – whether it was December 25 or August 12 – a Star shone brightly in the night sky. It so outshone its usual companions that the star watchers or astrologers or magi of the Great Cultures at the time of the Christ’s birth – Ptolemaic Egypt, Carthage, Aksumite Empire in Ethiopia, Persia, Indus Valley Chera/Chara/Suaga/Satavahana, the Han Dynasty, Rome, Armenia, Scythia, the Three Kingdoms of Korea and Teotihuacan – made pilgrimage to where this bright star led them.
Three of them made it to Bethlehem in time for the Birth.
The strings of lights I put up are to celebrate the Star of Bethlehem. This celestial object seemed to hang over the City of David. The Roman Emperor had called for a census and Joseph and a very pregnant Mary had gone there. She had her Son, God Incarnate who came to Earth to solve the problem of Original Sin of humanity against God’s Sovereignty – because God loved the entire population of humanity everywhen so much that God chose to send the Son to redeem them with the only thing humans clearly understand: blood.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem as the unique Savior of all humanity – all of whom are free to accept that they are in need of saving or pass on the offer.
I choose to believe that I am in need of saving; I choose to accept Jesus as the Christ. I choose to believe that unlike what Arthur C. Clarke opines in his story, God did not capriciously wipe out a kindly advanced civilization to suit His own, cold whim. God used a cosmic celestial event to mark a cosmic spiritual event; and I use Christmas lights to remind me (and anyone who sees my lights) of the Bethlehem Star.
I’ll let you know when my story about “The Star” is done, but until then, in the words of Hub Pages columnist and fellow Minnesotan, Kika Rose: “These are my views. Attack me if you will, but I will believe what I will believe and you can’t change my mind for me.”