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Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has developed a reputation for encouraging parents to pull pranks on their children. In the most infamous trick, parents tell their children that they have eaten all of the kids’ hard-earned Halloween candy. Predictably, the children scream, cry, throw their Halloween buckets around the room, or curse their parents.

In a different trick, Kimmel tells parents to give their children terrible presents and record the response. Children received presents consisting of rotten produce, half-eaten sandwiches, used tools, or gifts intended for the opposite gender. Many cried in disappointment; some screamed in anger. One boy told his family that he hated them and demanded a refund.

For children, presents are the centerpiece of Christmas. As we mature, we understand that giving gifts often brings more joy than receiving them. So much of the Christmas season includes connections to the Bible. At this time of year, we think of Christ’s birth—even though it didn’t occur in December—and associate gift-giving with the wise men who visited Jesus after his birth.

We’re going to start a series of posts this Christmas season dealing with the real stories behind Christmas. We’ll be exploring not only the biblical text but legends and holiday myths also. Our goal is to separate fact from fiction. Personally, the Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year. In perhaps no other season do we find such an emphasis on goodwill and charity. At the same time, we must also understand that this is a somewhat artificial connection. With this important caveat in mind, we’re going to in twelve days leading up to Christmas (FYI, the twelve days isn’t biblical either, as far as I can tell):

#1: What’s the Big Deal about Christmas?

#2: Was Jesus Born in 1 AD?

#3: Was Jesus Born on 25 December?

#4: Was Christmas a Pagan Holiday Originally?

#5: Was there No Room at the Inn?

#6: Was Jesus Born in a Stable?

#7: About Those Three Wise Men

#8: Who was the Real Saint Nick?

#9: What was the Star?

#10: The Death of the Innocents

#11: The War on Christmas

#12: Do We Keep Christ in Christmas?

I hope you’ll join me as we explore each one, and have a wonderful holiday season along the way.