Christianity’s Contributions: Cultural artifacts (Part 4)

Let’s conclude our examination of cultural artifacts made by the Christian Church by surveying words and expressions.

The abbreviations “BC” and “AD” stand for “Before Christ” and “Anno Domini” (“In the year of our Lord”).  They are now the politically correct terms “BCE” and “CE”, which stand for “Before Common Era” and “Common Era”.  However, Jesus is still the separating point!

A “cemetery” is a “dormitory or temporary sleeping place”, since people will be raised after “sleeping” in the ground (see Daniel 12:2; John 6:40; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

A “christening” occurs when infants are given “Christian” names at baptism.

The Christmas tree has an early history that is unclear.  Our tree usage and decoration seems to come from these origins.  St. Boniface used a pine tree to teach the concept of the Trinity through its triangular shape (675-754 AD).  These pine trees were eventually decorated with apples for the Feast of Adam and Eve.  Trees were decorated with candles by Martin Luther (1483-1546).  Eventually. the practice of decorating trees started in Germany and then spread to America (1847).

The word “creed” means “I believe”.  The three main creeds, Apostle’s, Nicene, and Athanasian, state our Christian faith and doctrine.

A “heresy”  means “choosing, choice, or faction” and is related to teachings that are not in line with doctrine.

Santa Claus comes from “Saint Claus”, based on a priest named Nicholas who lived in Myra, Turkey during the 4th century.  He was very generous and gave gold coins to 3 poor girls.  It is reported that he put the coins secretly in their home at night through a window. December 6 honors Nicholas who died in 326 AD.

We could go on with various expressions (“Good Samaritan”, “doubting Thomas”…) and first names (Mary, Adam…), but suffice it to say that we are influenced greatly by Christianity even in the words we use.

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