“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest and the eighth day is also a day of rest.” Leviticus. 23:39-40 (NIV)
The Lord God institutes the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The Israelites were to pick choice fruits from the trees and give thanks, rejoicing before God for seven days. I find it interesting that God told them to rest on day one of the feast, and on the first day after the festival. ALL those born in Israel were to participate in this celebration.
This festival was to remind the Israelite people that their ancestors had lived in tents and temporary houses during their wilderness wanderings. It seems the Israelite people, much like people of today, forgot their heritage and the stories of how they came to be where they were. This was to be a lasting ordinance.
As we opened our Christmas gifts, my husband emptied his stocking and found a big orange in the toe. Our son found one in his as well. He had told me a story about his childhood and getting fruit and a few peanuts in one of his the socks that his dad had hung up for him and his sister. Back then, some people didn’t get very much more than that on Christmas. Hubby related that story to our son.
The first Christmas I was on my own, I wanted a Christmas tree but I knew I didn’t have money for ornaments. I had the idea of using candy canes and those red stick-in bows on the branches. Some years, I remind myself of that time in my life by purchasing those boxes of a dozen candy canes and giving them to people. When I worked at a library, I gave one cane to each child I waited on. (I asked them to wait until they got home to eat them. But some had their own way of doing things.) This past year, I hung some on our stockings and then on my little tree. I need to tell others my story about this custom.
Like the Israelites, we modern people either go through the acts involved with a holiday, remembering why we do them, or we choose to do it but not remember the history at all. But the important issue is that we are rest, remember, and give thanks to the LORD.